Let’s Talk Vitamin K and Newborns
Vitamin K is necessary for normal blood clotting in adults and children. But newborns are different. They are not born with sufficient amounts of the vitamin. This may make you question the necessity of an injection. If all babies are born with little Vitamin K, it may be because it is what is meant to be. But, understandably, some argue that Vitamin K is needed so it must be administered. Which is right? Is one wrong?
As so many things in parenthood are, this decision is yours to make. Being educated and making the best decision for you it is the right answer.
It is quite rare, but in some newborns, a deficiency in Vitamin K can lead to a serious bleeding disorder, typically in the first week of life, called Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn (HDN). HDN is an internal bleeding that occurs in the brain and other organs, leading to serious injury or potentially even death. One of the signs that this may occur is bruising at birth. Many families who tend not to give the Vitamin K change their minds if there is any sign of bruising at birth, and most choose an oral dose instead of the injection.
So why do some people deny the injection?
It is a synthetic version of the vitamin. People are becoming more aware of the dangers of putting synthetic vitamins into the body. (Synthetic vitamins should be avoided as they can cause imbalances in the body.)
Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin and can accumulate in body tissues. The liver of a newborn does not begin to function until days after birth, meaning the tiny baby cannot detox from a large synthetic dose of the vitamin (and all other ingredients within the injection).
What is in the Vitamin K Injection?
A synthetic vitamin K with the generic name ‘phytonadione.’
Ingredients (May vary slightly by manufacturer):
2 mg Phytondione (the synthetic version of phylloquinone), 70 mgs polyoxyethylated fatty acid, 37.5 mgs hydrous dextrose, 9 mg benzyl alcohol, and possibly hydrochloric acid.
Ingredients In The Preservative-Free Version (May vary slightly by manufacturer):
1 mg Phytonadione (the synthetic version of phylloquinone), 10 mg Polysorbate 80, 10.4 mg of Propylene glycol, 0.17 mg of Sodium acetate anhydrous, 0.00002 mL of Glacial acetic acid
Along with the other preservatives and chemicals within the injection, Benzyl alcohol has been reported to be associated with a fatal ‘Gasping Syndrome’ in premature infants.
Vitamin K Injection Possible Side Effects
The drug insert warns that it can cause ‘severe, sometimes fatal, allergic reactions when injected into a muscle or vein.'
The manufacturer’s insert included with the shot includes the following warning:
Severe reactions, including fatalities, have occurred during and immediately after intravenous injection of phytonadione [synthetic Vitamin K] even when precautions have been taken to dilute the vitamin and avoid rapid infusion ….
Other Possible Problems:
- Bleeding or bruising at injection site
But Denying It May Put Baby At Risk... What Are My Options?
· Oral Supplement for Baby: Real Vitamin K is non-toxic, and there is no danger of overdosing or having a bad reaction. If you are breastfeeding, your baby can be given several low oral doses of liquid vitamin K1 and receive the same protection as he would receive from an injection. Talk to your doctor about this option so that you can have it on hand when baby is born. (This is the most common choice among families against synthetic vitamins)
· Supplement for Mother: Most breastmilk is low in vitamin K because the women themselves are vitamin K deficient. If women take vitamin K supplements, then their milk becomes much richer in vitamin K. Mothers who supplement themselves with vitamin K and are breastfeeding may not need to give their infants additional K supplements. Talk to your doctor about this option.