An injection of vitamin K for newborns has been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) since 1961. Routinely, it is given a few hours after birth for the prevention of very serious bleeding.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has produced an online brochure describing the need for a vitamin K injection.
According to the brochure, babies are born with a vitamin K deficiency because they have not yet developed the good bacteria in their digestive tract that produce the vitamin, and they can’t get enough of it from their mother’s milk or while they are in the uterus. Since vitamin K is essential in the clotting of blood, babies can get what is called vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB). VKDB is very dangerous. “Without enough vitamin K, your baby has a chance of bleeding into his or her intestines, and brain, which can lead to brain damage and even death. Infants who do not receive the vitamin K shot at birth can develop VKDB up to 6 months of age. The good news is that VKDB is easily prevented. The easiest and most reliable way to give babies vitamin K is by a shot into a muscle in the leg. One shot given after birth will protect your baby from VKDB.”
Are there any dangers? One 20-year-old study seemed to find a link between vitamin K injections and childhood cancers. However, follow up studies have never been able to show such a link. (Read the CDC’s brochure for more detail.)
This is an essential, one-time injection that could save your baby’s life.
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