The number of claims and counter-claims made about vitamin K deficiency in newborn babies has made this issue one of the most hotly contested on the Internet. There is the usual crowd of people who are opposed, on principle, to all claims made by scientists and medical authorities. They believe that such persons lack credibility and that their prescriptions do more harm than good to children.
While it is always wise to look deeply into any matter and to review the facts of any given case with a healthy dose of skepticism the kind of knee-jerk rejection of all medical research advocated by a small but very loud and determined minority is uncalled for. Skepticism means only the posing of certain critical questions. It is a process of determining the soundness and validity of information and any collection of facts recognized as knowledge.
That said there are certain well-established facts concerning vitamin K in newborns.
It is the case that compared with adults newborn babies are born with low levels of vitamin K but the amount is normally sufficient to prevent problems. Some babies are at particular risk because they don’t have sufficient vitamin K, which makes them more susceptible to developing Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn (HDN), also known as Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB).
HDN is a rare but very serious disease. Half of all babies who have HDN have a hemorrhage into their brain (intracranial bleeding). This often causes brain damage, and the baby may die. Some babies are more at risk than other. The babies with an elevated risk of developing HDN include babies born after less than 37 weeks of pregnancy, babies whose birth involved the use of forceps, ventouse or caesarean, where bruising occurs, babies who had trouble breathing and did not get enough oxygen when they were born, babies whose mothers are taking anti-convulsants, anti-coagulants, or drugs to treat tuberculosis, babies who have liver disease that may show as prolonged jaundice or symptoms, such as pale stools or dark urine.
You should of course consult your physician if you believe your baby is at risk of contracting this dreaded condition. You should also ask about Infant Vitamin K Drops. A lot of literature exists on the subject but here is what you need to know.
Giving vitamin K by injection keeps the levels of the vitamin higher for longer. Problems from the injection are very uncommon but may happen, as with any injection. Babies can feel pain and, on rare occasions, may have an infection at the place where the injection goes in, or bleeding and bruising in the muscle.
If you prefer to give the drops orally, you should be aware of the following facts.
Such a process is administered in three separate doses over the first month of life. All three doses must be given in order for the drops to have their intended effect.
You should also be aware that HDN is more common among breastfed babies. Vitamin K levels are higher in the first milk women produce than in mature milk.
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