Vitamin K Shots Are Safe for Newborns and Protect Them From Serious Bleeding Conditions
Intermountain Health experts encourage parents on simple choice which helps to lower risk of a potentially serious condition for newborns.
Salt Lake City, UT (PRUnderground) February 27th, 2023
Many parents know about the importance of vitamins for their kids, but many may not know about one of the lesser-known vitamins – Vitamin K and how important it is for newborns.
Intermountain Health caregivers explain that vitamin K is an essential nutrient for blood clot formation. People of all ages need vitamin K to help form blood clots to stop bleeding. Vitamin K is important for keeping bones healthy too.
Older children and adults can get vitamin K from foods such as green, leafy vegetables, meat dairy and eggs. They also have healthy bacteria in their intestines that produce vitamin K. But unfortunately, children under six months of age are unable to eat these foods and have very little vitamin K in their bodies at birth.
“When babies don’t have enough vitamin K, they are at risk of a very serious bleeding problem called vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding, that can lead to brain damage or death,” said Taylor Hanton, NP a neonatal nurse practitioner at Intermountain Park City Hospital. “The bleeding can be visible on the outside of their body, such as from the skin or a bloody nose, but even more concerning, is that it can be occurring inside the body, such as in the brain or intestines, where parents can’t see it.”
The bleeding condition has been rare in the U.S. since the 1960s when the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended newborns receive a vitamin K shot at birth.
“But recently, as neonatal providers and pediatricians here in Utah, we have noticed an increase in these newborn bleeding problems among babies with parents who have opted out of the vitamin K shot. Parents might not realize that one out of every five babies with vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding dies,” said Hanton.
“Vitamin K administered intra-muscularly is the most effective prevention strategy for vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding. Intermountain follows AAP guidelines to provide the shot within six hours after birth. Numerous studies show the one-time vitamin K shot given shortly after birth is safe and will help protect newborns from vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding,” she added.
Some parents ask if vitamin K can be given orally. Administration of oral vitamin K is less effective than an injection, due to erratic absorption from the gastrointestinal tract and has to be given weekly until a baby is three months of age. Due to the less-than-optimal effectiveness of oral vitamin K absorption, certain procedures such as circumcisions, may be limited.
“A quick injection of vitamin K in the baby’s thigh right after birth means parents won’t have to worry about going to the pharmacy and getting the vitamin and remembering to give the correct dose once a week, or figure out accurate dosing if the baby spits up part of the dose,” said Hanton
For more information about newborn care or to find a pediatrician, visit intermountainhealth.org.
About Intermountain Health
Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., www.intermountainhealth.org is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called SelectHealth with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news.