Having lower levels of white blood cells because of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) may make you more prone to infections, but there are steps you can take to stay healthy.

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of blood cancers. Typically, healthy blood cells are created in the bone marrow. Blood cells start as immature cells called blasts or stem cells. Healthy stem cells mature into red or white blood cells or platelets.

With MDS, these stem cells do not grow into normal blood cells. Instead, these cells don’t live long. They grow quickly and crowd out healthy blood cells. People with MDS often have low levels of healthy white blood cells. 

White blood cells are an important part of your immune system. They help to fight infection. When you don’t have enough white blood cells, you may be more prone to infections.

Here are things you can do to reduce your risk of infection and stay healthy.