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Okay, here's one of those things that most people just don't think about - vitamin K injections for your newborn. These are routinely given in hospitals, along with the eye gunk that I'll address another time if anyone is interested. Here's everything you never knew to ask about vitamin K...
What's it for?
Vitamin K helps your baby's blood to clot. Newborns have prolonged clotting times since their blood initially needs to flow smoothly through the network of small vessels in the placenta without clotting.
Why is it ironic that they give vitamin K via injection?
Think about it - if your baby's blood isn't clotting yet, would you want to make her bleed? Okay, so that's just MY observation.
What could happen if I DON'T give her vitamin K?
Insufficient levels of vitamin K can put infants at risk of a life-threatening hemorrhage in the brain, occurring up to two months of age. However, the risk is very low - approximately 5 out of every 100,000 births.
What are the risks of the vitamin K injection?
Most parents who decline vitamin K for their newborns do so to spare their infants the emotional trauma of enduring physical pain so soon after the ordeal of birth. Newborns often respond to pain by "shutting down", so to speak - going to sleep to avoid it. This interrupts the baby's natural wakeful period following delivery, and the opportunity for immediate bonding between mother and child.
There is, however, a greater risk. Children who receive vitamin K at birth have been shown to be at 20-80% greater risk for childhood leukemia. In a child that does NOT receive vitamin K, the incidence of hemorrhage is FAR lower than that of leukemia. (Also, hemorrhaging is not necessarily prevented by vitamin K - in fact, vaccination is one of the major causes of hemorrhage.)Vitamin K package inserts list possible adverse reactions as: hemolysis (breakdown of red blood cells), hemolytic anemia (disorder characterised by premature destruction of red blood cells), hyperbilirubinemia (too much bilirubin in blood) and jaundice (yellow skin and eyes resulting from hyperbilirubinemia). Allergic reactions may include flushed face, upset stomach, rash, redness/pain/swelling at injection site and itching skin. Overdose can cause brain damage or impairment of liver function.
Other things to consider...
The form of vitamin K. Hospitals inject a synthetic form of the vitamin, rather than the natural vitamin, which is either digested after eating vitamin K-rich foods, or produced naturally by the body's gut bacteria. Vitamin K only seems to be truly effective in its natural form.
All injections contain preservatives. This one contains benzyl alcohol. Some brands may contain hydrochloric acid, phenol (a substance distilled from coal tar), propylene glycol (derived from petroleum and used as antifreeze) or acetic acid (an antimicrobial agent that may drastically reduce the amount of *natural* vitamin K that would have otherwise been produced in baby's digestive tract.)
Consider vitamin K more strongly if:
she is born prematurely (before 36 weeks)
she has a liver problem
she was exposed to alcohol prenatally
you took anti-seizure meds during pregnancy
delivery was especially difficult (forceps, breech, C-section) and especially if there is bruising or other signs of trauma on baby's head
you plan to travel a lot with your newborn in her first few months. More time in a vehicle = greater chance of physical injury = a greater need for her blood to able to clot.
you have a boy and plan to have him circumcised
What are some alternatives to the vitamin K injection?
Be sure to injest lots of vitamin K before your baby is born - particularly during your last trimester. Foods rich in vitamin K include green leafy vegetables (alfalfa, brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, collard greens, asparagus), cauliflower, oats and green tea. There are also vitamin K supplements available - my midwife recommended alfalfa, which were big, green, NASTY capsules, and I had to take several each day. But they were well worth it for me.
And...you knew it was coming, right? BREASTFEED!! Colustrum is very rich in vitamin K, and will kick start your newborn's body into producing her own vitamin K. HOWEVER...if she is given antibiotics (directly or as part of a vaccine, such as Hepatitis B ), this will prohibit the manufacturing of vitamin K. Taking a vitamin K supplement postpartum will insure that she continues to receive the vitamin once your milk comes in. Vitamin K is added to nearly all infant formula; however, the difference lies (again) in the way that the body uses natural versus synthetic vitamin K!
Found this while researching, and it makes perfect sense to me!
"...how could God (or nature) have erred so badly as to give all newborn babies only an infinitesimal fraction of their required vitamin K? Surely the human race could not have survived to this point if all newborns were born with this deficiency and none being administered at birth until very recently." So ironically, when a Vitamin K deficiency does occur the probable cause(s) would be some other artificial, unnecessary interference, which just so happens to be something that one might say is fairly characteristic of modern medical treatments.
mom to Rachael, 10 ~ Milly, 6 ~ foster mom (waiting on the next call)
Last edited by ragmama; November 18th, 2009 at 10:19 AM.
1 - I am definitely interested in hearing what you have to say about the eye goop, even though I'm leaning towards refusing it since I don't have nor have I ever had an STD.
2 - I posted on my FB status, but in case you don't see it... I read that a baby with a mom who is on anticoagulants should really get the Vitamin K. I'm on the aspirin. That is one, right? Did you come across anything more about that in your research?
I guess I'll ask here or you can start another thread on it... there is no other reason for the eye goop, right? I read somewhere someone was told it was to protect baby from yeast infection and she gave in and then later it hit her that antibiotics don't help a fungal infection, or something like that. And it doesn't help with GBS, right? I was positive with Natalie, not sure if I'll even get tested this time.