The Purpose of Giving Vitamin K Shot for Newborns






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The Purpose of Giving Vitamin K Shot for Newborns
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Vitamin K is typically given to newborns via an injection shortly after they are born. This is a standard when it comes to newborn care, but some parents feel as if it is not necessary and may actually harm their baby. Many of these parents opt out of having the vitamin K shot given to their newborn because of this reason.

However, it is important that you understand both arguments before determining if you should have the vitamin K shot administered to your newborn. Below is more information to help you determine if it is right for you and your baby.

1. Advantages

The reason that Vitamin K is administered is because it can help prevent early vitamin K deficiency bleeding, which is also known as VKBD. VKBD, which was originally known as classic hemorrhagic disease of the newborn, is present when a baby is born and they have a deficiency of vitamin K.


This deficiency may cause the brain to bleed within the first weeks after they are born and by giving babies this shot, the risk of them developing this potentially fatal disorder is prevented. After they are three weeks old VKBD can be prevented with an oral supplement of Vitamin K, which can be found in formula. For breastfed babies, they are not able to receive vitamin K through formula and sometimes need oral supplements until they are twelve weeks old.

2. The Argument Against

The argument against vitamin K shots is due to the fact that VKBD is very rare. Even without taking the supplement there is only an occurrence of 1.8 per 100,000 babies that develop early VKBD and only 5 out of 100,000 for late VKBD.


However, there has been a small case study that has been completed that suggested a link between the vitamin K shot and childhood leukemia. However, the study only reviewed the oral supplements and did not include the shots. In 2003 a study was conducted that was completed on a larger scale that found no correlation between childhood leukemia and vitamin K supplements.

3. Things to Consider

There are some women who are at a higher risk of having their baby develop VKBD. For example, those women who are taking an anti-epileptic medication are encouraged to have their babies take the supplement. Babies who were exposed to drugs and alcohol while the mother was pregnant are also more likely to develop VKBD.


Other instances that created a larger risk to develop this deficiency are babies that experience trauma during birth, such as needing to be extracted during the delivery process by forceps or a vacuum as well as those who go through a circumcision or surgical procedures shortly after they are born.

4. Making the Choice

Before you decide whether you want your baby to have a vitamin K shot, you should discuss it carefully with your doctor. He will be able to give you all the information so that you can make the best decision for you and your baby. Each pregnancy is different and each comes with a different risk factor for developing VKBD.

breastfeeding-moms-can-take 1-mg-of-vitamin-K-each-day-for-12-weeks

One option for women who are breastfeeding is to avoid the shot portion of the supplement and for the mother herself to take 1 mg of vitamin K each day for 12 weeks. This will help build up the vitamin K that can be found in her breast milk and will therefore be transferred to her baby.

5. Conclusion

There are many vaccinations that are given to babies when they are first born and it is natural for parents to wonder if they are all necessary. Vitamin K is crucial for babies who are at a risk for VKBD.


However, parents of babies that are not at risk to develop it tend to question if they should allow their babies to have the shot or not. Since every person feels differently about vaccinations, it is extremely important that you discuss them with your doctor. You should know what vaccinations will be given to your baby and the reason they are given.

However, it is important to remember that some vaccinations are required in order for children to start school when they become older. This is another area that you will need to talk to your doctor about because every state and country has different requirements in regards to vaccinations.

Ms. Ledoux began her career as an ObGyn nurse practitioner prior to becoming a practicing midwife in the Santa Cruz community. Working together with ObGyn physicians in her own practice, she has over 20 years experience in women's health, pregnancy and childbirth.

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