The vitamin K shot is a vaccine for newborns that has been around for years. It has been routinely given to newborns since 1961. The reason is pretty simple. Babies are born with low levels of Vitamin K. Vitamin K does not cross the placenta from mother to baby, and babies have no way of getting their own vitamin K before birth.
Vitamin K is an important factor in helping blood to clot and preventing excessive bleeding. Vitamin K are usually given to babies shortly after delivery to help prevent a condition known as Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB), formerly known as hemorrhagic disease of the newborn.
VKDB can cause complications ranging from bruising to bleeding of the brain. The vitamin K shot has proved to be more effective than an oral dosage of Vitamin K, and lasts longer, which means it protects the baby longer.
VKDB was once thought to be a thing of the past. Since 1961, the American Academy of Pediatrics has been recommending that babies get a vitamin K shot at birth, and instances of VKDB were very, very rare. However, the CDC reported that in a short 8 month span in 2013, five infants were admitted to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, TN.
All five were diagnosed with VKDB. Four had bleeding of the brain, and one had bleeding of the intestines. In all five cases, the babies’ parents’ had refused the Vitamin K shot at birth.
The CDC found in the cases of the four parents who declined the vitamin K shot, they claimed they made their decision based on their idea that the shot was unnecessary and to limit their child’s exposure to “toxins.” They also said they believed there was a higher risk for leukemia when the child was given vitamin K. That link was shown in one 1992 study, but has not since been replicated by other research.
When it comes to environmental toxins, and even vaccines, it is important that parents are paying attention to what is going on and try to prevent their babies from being exposed to anything dangerous. That is good parenting, and what we all should do.
However, there are some cases, such as the case with Vitamin K, when refusing a simple vaccine could mean extreme illness or even death for your baby later on down the line. When deciding whether or not your baby should receive this shot (or any other shot) it is important to do your research, talk with your doctor, and not just make decisions based on something you heard or read on the internet. Shots, illness, and babies are a serious combination and you want to be sure that you are making the right choice.
P.S. The author of this article chose NOT to give any of their children the Vitamin K shot at birth. In all cases, the children showed no ill-effects. This decision was based solely on their personal beliefs, and likewise, we encourage you to make your own informed decision about the health and safety of your newborn.