The birth of a baby brings along a lot of mixed emotions. From the mother’s aftercare to ensuring that the baby is safe and sound, there’s a lot of chaos going on after a successful childbirth. Besides the staple vaccinations and the necessary nutrition that newborns need, they also need a Vitamin K injection for optimal health.
Vitamin K is a crucial vitamin needed for blood clotting. While adults and older children get a steady supply of Vitamin K from the gut bacteria and their diet, the same doesn’t apply to newborn babies. The levels of vitamin K are negligible in the newborn. Vitamin K doesn’t pass through the placenta into the developing fetus.
Even after birth, the vitamin K supply via breastfeeding or formula feeding is quite low. Such low vitamin K levels contribute to severe and uncontrolled bleeding, which can be fatal for the newborn, leading to significant brain damage.
Hence, the significance of Vitamin K injection for newborns is crucial. This article will explore the uses, dosage and importance of vitamin K administration in newborns in detail.
In this Article
What does Vitamin K do in the body?
Vitamin K is responsible for active blood clotting, especially when sustaining a severe injury. In the absence or low levels of this vitamin in the bloodstream, individuals can bleed out profusely, leading to fatal consequences.
Babies are at heightened risk of suffering from VKDB or Vitamin K deficiency bleeding. This happens due to a lack of healthy levels of Vitamin K in the bloodstream after birth. This is why the Vitamin-K injection is given around 6 hours after birth to combat any fatal consequence.
The primary reason why Vitamin-K is so beneficial for babies is to prevent the risks of VKDB, which leads to bleeding in the brain, in very rare occurrences. By six months, the babies develop a healthy supply of Vitamin K in their bloodstream.
How is Vitamin K administered to a newborn?
The most reliable and direct way to give Vitamin K injection to a newborn is via an injection. The said injection is given 6 hours after birth, and it provides protection against bleeding disorders and VKDB up to 6 months, after which the baby develops its natural supply of Vitamin K in the body.
If a baby or the parents don’t prefer administering a Vitamin K injection, the same can be given orally. In that case, the baby has to get multiple doses due to a lack of optimal absorption when given orally.
For oral administration, the baby has to get three doses:
- Dose 1 – right after birth
- Dose 2 – 3-5 days after birth
- Dose 3 – the fourth week after birth
If the baby vomits within one hour of administration of oral vitamin K, the baby will need another Vitamin-K oral dose.
Can every baby get a Vitamin-K injection?
The Vitamin-K injection uses are profound and life-saving. Despite the birth status, weight, race, height or other issues, every baby has to get their Vitamin-K shot to prevent risks of fatal injuries or other complications that the deficiency brings.
The injection is more or less safe for every baby, while the oral dosage of Vitamin-K might be restrictive for some newborns.
If a baby is born early or prematurely, the doctor will advise the correct dosage for their well-being. Premature babies should only get the Vitamin-K shot and not the oral dosage.
Also, if a parent chooses an oral dosage of Vitamin-K for their baby and the newborn doesn’t respond well to the treatment, the doctor will switch to the Vitamin-K injection.
Additionally, if the mother took medications for certain conditions and disorders like blood clots, epilepsy, and tuberculosis while pregnant, the baby must get the Vitamin-K injection instead of the oral dosage.
Vitamin-K injections aren’t mandatory for a newborn. It is a choice, much like all vaccinations are, and the decision lies with the parent. However, doctors strongly advise administering the injection for a newborn’s safety and good health.
Are the Vitamin-K injections safe?
When you are giving birth to a baby after nine months of pain, struggle, cravings and sickness, it is normal to be skeptical about things. Nobody wants their newborn to be poked with a needle right after their birth. However, a Vitamin-K shot can save your baby against several bleeding complications that can even turn fatal for them.
It is one thing being skeptical about the safety of Vitamin-K injections, and it is another thing denying your child the safety they should get.
Vitamin-K injections are completely safe. Following the administration, the Vitamin-K is stored inside the baby’s liver and gradually secreted when the need arises. The gradual release of Vitamin-K over months, allows the newborn to have the protection it needs until it can start its own supply of Vitamin-K.
The only negative about the administration of Vitamin-K shot arises from a 1990s study that linked these injections with the onset of early childhood cancer. Over the years, the claims in that study have been proven incorrect.
Is breastfeeding Enough for Vitamin-K supply to a newborn?
When discussing severe complications like VKDB, the minimal amount of Vitamin-K from breastfeeding isn’t enough. Just breastfed babies aren’t immune to risks of severe bleeding disorders, which is why getting a Vitamin-K shot is more of a necessity than a choice.
During the 4-6 months, when the baby is switched to solid foods, their intestines work to culture good levels of gut bacteria that secrete the required Vitamin-K supply to shield the babies.
What is the optimal dosage of Vitamin-K injection?
The intramuscular Vitamin-K injection is administered in two different doses, depending on the newborn’s birth weight.
Babies weighing ≤1500 g get a 0.5 mg dose, while babies weighing >1500 g get 1.0 mg of the Vitamin-K dosage. The injection is administered 6 hours after birth following the initial stabilization, testing and checking for other safety markers in the baby and the mother.
Every parent wants the best for their newborn child, and a simple Vitamin-K shot can ensure prevention against fatal diseases like VKDB. So, if given a choice, pick your child’s well-being over inner conflicts. If you have any concerns about the dosage, its implications or consequences, discuss everything in detail with your OBGYN before birth to ensure everything goes smoothly after the delivery.