Why babies need vitamin K
A growing number of parents who oppose vaccinations are also declining vitamin K injections for their newborns, according to new research.
Vitamin K is a routine injection administered to newborns that prevents internal bleeding. As a result of this new trend, more babies have become sick with vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) – a disorder that can lead to excessive bleeding in the brain or intestines. Infants who do not get the vitamin K injection at birth are at 81 times greater risk for developing VKDB than infants who do get the injection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Newborns who become deficient in vitamin K are more likely to suffer brain or gastrointestinal bleeding – both of which can have long-lasting effects on a child’s health, including brain damage or cognitive delays,” says Dr. Asit Vora, pediatrician with Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill .
In a recent issue of the Journal of Emergency Medicine, a case study was presented on a 10-week-old boy who was brought to a hospital for ongoing fussiness and the appearance of blood flecks in his stool.
After extensive blood work and a CT scan, it was revealed that the baby had severe anemia and bleeding outside the brain. He was ultimately diagnosed with VKDB, which was a result of his parent’s refusal to consent to the injection at birth. Emergency physicians were able to stop the bleeding around the brain by giving the infant an infusion of vitamin K.
“Babies are born with extremely low levels of vitamin K, so it is critical they receive the injection for normal blood clotting,” says Dr. Vora. “The injection is not a vaccine, but simply a boost of a vitamin that helps prevent serious and life-threatening conditions.”
The injection is typically given to newborns within hours after birth and has been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics since 1961.
Vitamin K poses no risks to newborns and only protects them from developing a potentially deadly bleeding problem, Dr. Vora says.
About the Author
Julie Nakis, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. She earned her BA in communications from the University of Iowa – Go Hawkeyes! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the city and cheering on the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks.