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Vitamin K shot


Vitamin K is necessary to the proper clotting of blood.  Most of our vitamin K is produced by our beneficial gut bacteria and some comes from our food (mostly leafy green vegetables).  Understanding that vitamin K levels are so dependent on our gut biome helps explain why antibiotic use should be minimized and why babies' levels rise so well in the weeks after birth. Due to Mother Nature's design, babies are born with a lower vitamin K level and therefore blood clotting ability is less than their mother or than what they will have in a few months' time.  In the last weeks of pregnancy, several blood clotting factors increase but the factors that depend on K do not.


Why does this matter?  Approximately 5 in 100,000 babies can experience bleeding into the brain about 1 week to several months after birth.  This is called Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding of the Newborn.  Most often it is an inborn problem in the liver which causes a decreased ability to metabolize vitamin K.  Breastfed babies are at most risk of bleeding because breastmilk is naturally low in vitamin K and formula contains high levels of vitamin K.


Other considerations regarding vitamin K injections?

All babies are born with a vitamin K level that is significantly lower than adults or infants.  Therefore, this is a normal level of K for newborns. Their gut biome, which produces vitamin K, increases exponentially after birth and is fed by breastmilk.  Maternal K levels do not affect the newborn and breastmilk does not contain appreciable amounts. The disease process which causes bleeding can be idiopathic (no known reason) or due to an underlying disorder.  A vitamin K shot can mask the presence of this disease but also reduces damage from the bleeding. A baby undergoing circumcision can hemorrhage without a vitamin K shot because it is an unnatural wound and his (or her) clotting ability is decreased.  This baby MUST have vitamin K. A baby is born with a slightly immature liver.  The vitamin K shot is synthetic. Some people have concerns about the baby's liver's ability to detoxify this amount of a synthetic chemical. Some people are concerned about cell division in the newborn and the effect high levels of vitamin K have on the rate of division. Many people administer the vitamin K after their risk-benefit analysis of vitamin K administration.

In my practice, a mother has the choice of injectable vitamin K, oral vitamin K drops, or no vitamin K administration after full informed decision-making research and discussion.  I carry injectable, oral vitamin K must be purchased in advance at: www. If you decide against  vitamin K at birth, we request that your sign an informed consent waiver.



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