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Why a vitamin K shot is vital

Vitamin K shots for newborns are under siege from anti-vaxxers masquerading as “natural parenting” advocates.


The viability of a vitamin K shot for infants is being hotly contested on mom blogs and medical message boards.


But the importance of a vitamin K shot is not a question in delivery rooms across the US.


According to a recent Wired article, It’s surprisingly difficult to find reliable information on vitamin K shots online.


Doctors and medical practitioners administer vitamin K shots to newborns in the first few hours after a baby is born.  Infants are born with a vitamin K deficiency.  They need vitamin K in order to form blood clots and prevent bleeding.


The practice is routine and universally recommended.


But parents are increasingly opting out of a vitamin K shot for their newborn.  Why?  It may have something to do with false and misleading information about the necessity of vitamin K shots for newborns.


Let’s be clear: a vitamin K shot could save your newborn’s life.  It is important for their growth.


And it’s important for you as a parent to be informed on why vitamin K shots are necessary.  Let’s dive into some facts.


Vitamin K history


Vitamin K shots for newborns were first recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1961.


A study showed that infants given 0.5 mg of vitamin K were 5 times less likely to suffer bleeding during the first week of life.


According to the study, the introduction of prophylactic vitamin K would save the lives of 16 out of every 10,000 newborns.


Why vitamin K?


Vitamin K is necessary for clotting.  An infant’s blood-clotting abilities are present at birth, but cannot activate without sufficient vitamin K.


As K levels drop, the blood loses the ability to clot entirely.  Babies are born with very low vitamin K because it doesn’t cross the placenta well, according to the CDC.  There’s also not much vitamin K in breast milk.


The medical community agrees that all newborns have low levels of vitamin K.  They need it from an outside source.


Without a vitamin K shot, babies are 81 times more likely to develop severe bleeding, according to the CDC.


Vitamin K application


Vitamin K is usually given as an injection.  It is also available as a three-series dose in the first month of life.


Parents can sometimes forget to give the subsequent two oral doses (they have a lot going on).  So doctors prefer the shot.


When three oral doses of vitamin K are given, 1.4 to 6.4 infants out of 100,000 will develop late vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB), according to evidence-based birth.


With the shot, only 0 to 0.62 infants out of 100,000 will suffer from VKDB.


VKDB can manifest as a “brain bleed” in infants.  It’s nearly impossible for doctors to tell if a baby is having a brain bleed.


Brain bleeding can do irreversible damage in infants.  And parents may not realize something is wrong until it’s too late.


Risks of forgoing a vitamin K shot


In 2013 and 2014, seven newborns between the ages of 7 and 20 weeks were diagnosed with VKDB in Tennessee.  In each case, the parents had refused a vitamin K shot at the hospital.


To read about the risks of forgoing a vitamin K shot is to also know that it is dangerous to skip.


Your children could suffer from brain bleeds without you or your doctor knowing anything is wrong.


Therefore, The CDC vouches for the safety of the vitamin K shot.   The AAP has also endorsed it for over fifty years.


The only health issues associated with vitamin K shots are from parents who decided to skip it.  The evidence speaks for itself.  Please listen to your medical professionals when it comes time to administer a vitamin K shot.