why do they give babies vitamin k
What is a vitamin K shot? A single injection of vitamin K containing. 5 to 1 milligram of the nutrient is given in one of your baby s thighs. When is it done? Newborns will get a vitamin K shot usually within the first six hours of birth and certainly by the time they leave the hospital. Why do babies need vitamin K? Vitamin K is necessary for the blood to clot. All babies have low levels of K when they re born, so the shot reduces the chances of vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB), which happens in a small percentage of babies. Newborns who have VKDB may have blood in their
or urine, or they may ooze blood from the skin around the.
The bleeding can be fatal. Babies are at higher risk of VKDB if they don t get the shot, if they re exclusively (because cow s milk formula contains more vitamin K than human milk), or if their mothers take antiseizure medications. The condition is most common in the first days of life, but it can also appear after two weeks. Is it standard? Yes, receiving the vitamin K shot is common practice for all babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) first started recommending it in 1961. Should you ask for it? You won t have to. Are vitamin K shots safe?
The vitamin K shot is safe, even though in the early 1990s, British researchers published data that found an association between vitamin K injections in newborns and childhood leukemia. But since then, many scientists have looked at the same data as well as additional research and found no link. The AAP has also analyzed the British data, plus research on children in the US, and found no association between the shot and childhood leukemia or other cancers. The AAP has also stated that recent studies on how childhood leukemia develops show that it s unlikely vitamin K injections have anything to do with it.
Can you ask for vitamin K as an oral dose instead of as a shot for your newborn? There are oral doses of vitamin K, but they aren t as effective at preventing the VKDB that can develop after the first few days of your baby s life. Because an oral dose of K can't protect babies against later-stage VKDB (which can happen anytime between the age of two weeks and six months) as well as the shot can, it's typically not an option for newborns in the United States. Vitamin K can be given by mouth or injection. For healthy babies it is probably best to give it by mouth.
For babies who need to be cared for on the special care baby nursery the injection is usually better. The midwife looking after you and your baby will talk to you about vitamin K and ask if you are happy for the first dose to be given shortly after birth, and if so, will give this first dose. If you intend to breastfeed you will also be offered a bottle of vitamin K to give your baby a small daily dose by dropper. You will be shown how to give this to your baby and given a bottle with enough Vitamin K for a daily dose until your baby is about 14 weeks old. Vitamin K is oil based so sterilising the dropper is not required and it is best just wiped clean if needed.
If you decide to fully bottle feed your baby with formula milk, you will not need to give extra daily vitamin K. This is because the milk manufacturers add vitamin K to formula milk. For babies who are mixed feeding we advise that you continue with the full course of vitamin K until your baby is receiving less than half their milk as breast milk. You can of course decline the offer of extra vitamin K. Please talk to the staff looking after you and your baby if you have any concerns, or would like to talk this through.
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