For years now doctors have been noticing a rise in people who are refusing to allow their newborns to get a shot of vitamin K shortly after birth. The same people that don’t believe in giving this vaccine to a new baby have populated the first few hits on Google with claims that vitamin K can cause sudden infant deaths or long-term developmental issues. It is these hits that have been turning an increasing number of parents away from the shot, out of fear that vitamin K will cause harm to their newest little ones.
But, vitamin K deficiency is common in newborn babies and can lead to late-onset bleed, coagulation issues, and even a deadly brain hemorrhage.
But let’s back up: what exactly is vitamin K? It’s a fat-soluble vitamin necessary for blood coagulation, but also for the construction of bones and organs. This vitamin can be found in leafy greens, veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, and it exists in smaller amounts in foods like fish, cereals, meat, and eggs. It’s been standard practice since the ‘60s to give newborn babies a shot of the stuff in order to prevent the onset of late-stage bleeding, which can happen if a baby is so deficient in vitamin K that their blood doesn’t clot.
Vitamin K doesn’t turn a baby’s skin into an impenetrable fortress, but it does prevent early excessive bleeding from such things as scrapes or circumcisions. In rare cases, bleeding after birth can even be due to a brain hemorrhage that could have terrible consequences for the infant. The incidence of this late-stage bleeding is about 5 out of 100,000 babies or 200 babies out of the 4 million who are born in the U.S. every year.
The vitamin K shot is simply one intramuscular shot that works continuously for 4 to 6 months. Babies are able to take the vitamin orally after birth, but it is imperative that parents ensure that the baby takes the proper number of doses. It is common as well for parents to ask about getting sufficient vitamin K for baby in breast milk, but unfortunately, breast milk contains very little vitamin K no matter how many stalks of broccoli you eat before giving birth.
Ultimately, providing care for a child is up to the discretion of the parents. But this vaccine, contrary to popular belief, offers many life-saving benefits for newborn babies.
Was your child given the vitamin K vaccine after birth? Let us know in the comments!