Vitamin K For Newborn Babies

Vitamin K helps blood to clot and is essential to prevent serious bleeding.  Babies don’t receive enough Vitamin K from their mothers during pregnancy, or when they are breast fed.  Without Vitamin K, they may be at risk of developing a rare disorder called Vitamin K deficiency bleeding.  This condition is very serious and can cause bleeding into the brain resulting in brain damage or death.  By the age of 6 months, babies have built up their own supply of Vitamin K.

The most reliable way to give Vitamin K to babies is by an intra muscular injection.  One injection just after birth will protect a baby for months.  Vitamin K can also be given orally but several doses are essential to give enough protection.  As it is not absorbed as well as the injection, the effect does not last as long.  If you do choose oral Vitamin K, your baby must have three doses.

Dose 1 @ birth

Dose 2 usually three to five days later

Dose 3 in the fourth week if the baby is fully breast fed.  If your baby is mainly artifical formula fed, the third dose will not be required.

Oral Vitamin K is not suitable for all babies.  Babies who are premature or sich should be given the dose by injection.  This is because the very small dose required for these babies is difficult to messure by mouth, and these babies are more likely to have feeding difficulties.  If you choose Vitamin K orally but your baby is unwell when a dose is due, your baby may need to have the injection instead.  If when you were pregnant, you took medication for epilepsy, blood clots or TB, you should discuss this with your doctor.  Your baby may not be able to absorb oral Vitamin K, and may need an injection instead.

Some studies in the past have suggested that injections of Vitamin K might have been linked to childhood cancer, but recent studies have not found any link.  The National Health and Medical Research Council has looked carefully at these studies and other evidence, and has concluded that Vitamin K is not associated with childhood cancer, whether it is given by injection or orally.

Giving your baby Vitamin K is your choice, and if you decide not to give Vitamin K to your baby you will need to be aware of what to look out for.

*  any unexplained bleeding or bruising

*  if your baby is over three weeks old and ther are signs of jaundice (yellow colouring of the skin and/or whites of the eyes).

Always make sure all doses of Vitamin K are recorded in your baby’s child health record.


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