Vitamin K at Birthby Elizabeth MacDonald
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 alone is enough to 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.
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. Due to this disease, which may affect 0.25% of infants, it has become standard treatment to give a Vitamin K injection as a preventative measure to all infants at birth, even when risk factors are not present.
Risk Factors for HDN Include:
- Preterm delivery
- Low birth weight
- A forceps or vacuum extraction delivery
- Mother’s use of antibiotics, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, and some other medications during pregnancy
- Undetected liver disease
- Extremely fast, or extremely prolonged labor, particularly during the pushing phase
- Delivery by C-section
- Certain Health Conditions – If baby has undiagnosed cholestasis (liver problems), diarrhea, hepatitis, cystic fibrosis (CF), celiac disease, or alpha – 1-antitrypsin deficiency, or a genetic variation affecting Vitamin K absorption, they may be at increased risk for VKDB.
So, why would you consider NOT doing Vitamin K?
Little to no unmetabolized vitamin K shows up in urine. This is disturbing given the fact that vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin and therefore has the potential to accumulate in body tissues. The liver of a newborn does not begin to function until 3 or 4 days after birth. As a result, the baby has very limited to no ability to detoxify the large dose of synthetic Vitamin K and all other ingredients in the injection.
Increased rates of circumcision immediately after birth, before infants can develop their vitamin K levels naturally, has contributed to making vitamin K injections routine, to lower the risk for increased bleeding from these early circumcisions. (Yes, an infant can bleed to death from circumcision.)
A newborn’s natural levels rise on their own to the normal range between days 5-7 and peak around day 8 of life. Research shows that this is related to the bacteria in the newborn’s gut.
What is in the Vitamin K Injection?
A synthetic Vitamin K with the generic name ‘phytonadione.’ (Synthetic vitamins should be avoided as they can cause imbalances in the body and have unintended consequences.)
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 Side EffectsThe phytonadione drug insert warns that it can cause severe, sometimes fatal, allergic reactions when injected into a muscle or vein, and is ideally taken by mouth or injected under the skin. Signs of an allergic reaction include hives, trouble breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. 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 …. The manufacturer’s insert is no exaggeration of the risks. On October 17, 2013, a case of anaphylactic shock in a newborn from the synthetic vitamin K shot was reported making the possibility of death from this shot a very real side effect. Other Problems:
- Bleeding or bruising at injection site
- Pain: Many have made claims that newborns don’t feel pain, or remember it, the way adults do. In fact, not only do infants feel pain, but the earlier they experience it, the more damaging and longer lasting the psychological effects may be.
(A 2004 study found that very early pain or stress experiences have long-lasting adverse consequences for newborns, including changes in the central nervous system and changes in responsiveness of the neuroendocrine and immune systems at maturity.)
You, being the parent, have the right to approve the injection, deny it, or provide the oral version.
Yes, there is an oral Vitamin K that you can bring and administer to your newborn to ensure the vitamin is given without the excess toxins in the injection.
Read more about the oral option at Evidence Based Birth.
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/03/27/high-risks-to-your-baby-from-vitamin-k-shot-they-dont-warn-you-about.aspx http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=896764&fileId=S000711450200051X http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26711469 http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/the-high-risks-of-vitamin-k-shot-for-your-newborn-baby/ http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/12/vitamin-k-shot-newborns.aspx http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1627060 http://www.nature.com/pr/journal/v22/n5/full/pr19871588a.html http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2964800/ https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=e8808230-2c44-44c6-8cab-8f29b6b34051 https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=ab569c0b-d35c-49ca-942b-98e2558b79c5 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/14767058.2013.847425#.VxFbnI-cHSE
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