Speaking out on an alarming trend

Speaking out on an alarming trend

All around the world, babies are given vitamin K routinely at birth in the delivery room. The vitamin is not something newborns have naturally in their system, but it is critical that they get it right away. Vitamin K promotes blood clotting and can save the baby from severe and life-threatening complications.

As a neonatologist, I have worked in a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for 13 years. I am very troubled when parents hesitate to give their baby the vitamin K shot. As health care professionals, we are working very hard to educate parents on the importance of this simple injection.

In some parts of the country, there seems to be a frightening trend among parents. Some are refusing to give their baby the vitamin K injection. I’ve personally experienced it at Advocate Children’s Hospital. Parents give many reasons. Some fear it is a vaccine, which it is not. Others refuse it for religious reasons. And still others fear it may somehow harm their healthy, beautiful child – that “natural” is better. Vitamin K will not hurt your child. In fact, it does just the opposite.

It is extremely important to me that parents understand why vitamin K is so critical.  Throughout life, children and adults get vitamin K from food like leafy vegetables and from bacteria in your gut. But a baby just brought into the world needs it, too. There is not enough vitamin K in an infant’s early diet, for example, breast milk, to compensate. That’s why we provide the shot immediately, even before the baby leaves the delivery room.

Saying “no” to vitamin K puts your child at risk. In fact, if vitamin K is refused at birth, the infant has an 81 times greater risk of developing Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding or (VKDB). Sound scary? It is. This condition can result in uncontrolled bleeding that may occur at any time between birth and six months of age. The bleeding, which most seriously occurs in the brain and intestines, is preventable when an infant is given the vitamin K shot in the delivery room.

Administering vitamin K has long been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multiple studies have deemed it exceptionally safe.

As a physician, neonatologist and father, I do understand how confusing it can be to know what is or is not best for your new baby. The internet provides so much competing information on a wide range of issues. But simply put, the vitamin K shot is essential to protecting your baby’s health. It is probably the very first step you will take, as a mother or father, to keep your child safe.

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Comments

6 Comments

  1. Hi Doctor, I am wondering why this important vitamin is not found naturally in the babies body at birth. Does it have to do with the mother’s diet? How long as this vitamin injection been required? My children are grown now, but I have never heard of this before.

    Thank you.

  2. John Herbie Hancock July 17, 2018 at 12:02 pm · Reply

    I’m not a doctor, but I can read, and I can do internet searches.

    The article offers a pretty clear explanation for why vitamin K is not found naturally in the baby’s body:
    [i]”Throughout life, children and adults get vitamin K from food like leafy vegetables and from bacteria in your gut. But a baby just brought into the world needs it, too. There is not enough vitamin K in an infant’s early diet, for example, breast milk, to compensate.”[/i]

    A quick search indicates Vitamin K shots began in the US on Sept. 1, 1940. Prior to that, chances of infant death in the first few days of birth due to bleeding dropped from 2% to 0.45%.

    In countries where Vitamin K has been introduced, the prevalence of death later on in infancy due to bleeding (note: Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) can occur up to 6 months of life, and becomes rarer as time goes on) becomes virtually non-existent.

  3. I can understand giving a newborn Vitamin K. What I cannot understand is giving a newborn the Hepatitis B vaccine. Vaccines contain aluminum in order to stimulate the immune system. It is also a toxin and there is absolutely no reason to subject a newborn to a toxin to prevent against a disease that is acquired via dirty drug needles or sex. Makes so much more sense to wait until the child is older.

    • I so agree. Vaccination does not give babies a chance to develop their own immunity. Just my opinion, but why can’t we wait till the child is older and why can’t we spread them out. No doubke or triple zhots either. One vaccine at a time. That way if the child has a reaction, we will know what caused it. Of course, big Pharma would be against this.

      • So… if we just left people to develop their own immunity to polio where would we be? Smh

  4. How many obstetricians have this conversation with parents prior to birth? I’ve had two children with two different OBGYNs and this never came up. I doubt I’m the only mom who’s never heard about this. Maybe the reason parents hesitate is because some doctors spring this decision on them at the last minute, after mom is delirious from delivery or a little out of it from a c-section. She’s given no time to research or make an informed decision about this. That’s not an appropriate time to discuss something like this if it’s really that important.

About the Author

Dr. Mike Cappello
Dr. Mike Cappello

Dr. Mike Cappello has been a neonatologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital for 13 years. He cares for fragile babies in the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on the Park Ridge campus.