Vitamin K For Newborns

5 min read
Vitamin K For Newborns

Vitamin K is an essential component of our bodies. It is a fat soluble vitamin necessary for clotting and prevents serious bleeding. Unfortunately babies do not get what is considered to be enough from their mothers during pregnancy or in the first few months of life through breast milk. For this reason it has been common practise since 1980 for all babies in Australia to be administered Vitamin K at birth. It’s not compulsory, but is highly recommended. It is however worth noting that what is considered low levels is up for discussion; if all babies are born with the same levels, is this not then normal?

Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB) is a very rare but very serious, potentially fatal condition that can affect newborns who do not have enough vitamin K in their system to deal with an injury, bleed or similar occurrence. This does not mean that a baby who gets a bruise, bump or cut will develop VKDB, it is still very rare, with an occurrence of 1 in 100’000 in developed countries (increases to 69 in 100’000 if not given vitamin k at birth). Babies with liver problems are particularly at risk, even if they are given vitamin k.

Vitamin K can be administered to newborns in 2 ways, via a single injection hours after birth or via 3 oral doses, one at birth, one at 3-5 days old and one in the 4th week of life. If babies are formula fed from birth the third dose is normally not necessary as formula contains high levels of vitamin K. An injection is considered a more reliable and effective method of delivery as oral doses can be affected by sickness, if baby vomits within an hour of a dose being administered it will need to be given again.

There are several circumstances where oral dosage is not considered appropriate and injection is the preferred method of delivery. If a mother uses medication for epilepsy, blood clots or tuberculosis while pregnant, her baby may not be able to absorb an oral dose properly. Sick, small or premature babies are more likely to have feeding trouble and not accept an oral medication well. If a boy is being circumcised in the first few days an injection is preferred to ensure the full dosage before surgery, so his blood clots effectively.

There are no proven side effects to the vitamin k and there have never been any recorded serious problems. It has been suggested that there was a link between vitamin k given at birth and childhood leukaemia. There have been several studies done investigating this, some found no link, some did. The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) have officially concluded that there is no link between vitamin k and cancer in children.

Despite this conclusion there are still several studies that show a correlation between vitamin k shots at birth and childhood leukaemia, so in the opinion of many it is up for dispute and there is always the possibility that further research will uncover a direct link. Vitamin K shots also contain some ingredients that you would most likely not give to your brand new baby in any other circumstance, such as benzyl alcohol as a preservative, hydrochloric acid to stabilise PH levels and aluminium. Benzyl alcohol has been reported to be associated with a fatal ‘gasping syndrome’ in premature infants and aluminium builds up in our system, potentially reaching toxic levels. There are preservative free shots available and this is something to discuss with your doctor or midwife.Vitamin K For Newborns

The dosage is also worth considering. In the injection there is 20’000 times the newborn level of vitamin k. Cell division inside baby which continues to happen after birth depends on precise amounts of vitamin k to proceed at the appropriate rate, this massive dose may speed up or interfere with cell division. It is considered by some that the oral delivery over 3 doses is a much better choice, or supplementing the mother after birth to boost levels in breast milk and raise levels in the infant steadily.

Whether you choose to have vitamin k given to your newborn or not is completely up to you, but if you choose against it, it is crucial to monitor your child for signs of VKDB. These include but may not be limited to:

  • Irritability, vomiting, lethargy and pale skin
  • Beyond 3 weeks of age with increasing signs of jaundice
  • Easy bruising
  • Bleeding from the nose, gut or umbilical cord

If any of these symptoms present themselves and you are concerned, see a doctor immediately.

What choice did you make for your little one?

Sources  this is a great one to link, I was given this pamphlet at the midwifes but it is still very one sided, most things are either completely for or completely against”¦




Jody Allen
About Author

Jody Allen

Jody Allen is the founder of Stay at Home Mum. Jody is a five-time published author with Penguin Random House and is the current Suzuki Queensland Amb...Read Moreassador. Read Less

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