We get regular inquiries on our opinion regarding the vitamin K injections given at birth. The reason they give the injection is to prevent bleeding in the brain. This type of bleeding (called intracranial hemorrhage or “ICH”) can be serious and cause permanent brain damage or death. The incidence has been estimated as high as 1 in 13,889. (1) Obviously this is something we want to take steps to prevent if possible.

So why the issue with vitamin K injections? There are a few, but the main ones seem to be:
1. Cancer. There was a study that found an association between the vitamin K injection and childhood leukemia, (2) however this study was not replicated and may be in error. (3)
2. Psychological aspects of giving a newborn an injection and potentially inducing more pain and trauma to the infant.
3. Possible “side effects” including serious allergic reactions. (4)

Oral vitamin K was found to be equally effective in preventing ICH. The regimen used successfully is as follows:

1. Oral Vitamin K1 dosage 1mg at birth and then
2. Oral Vitamin K1 dosage 25mcg daily from 1 week to 3 months.

On this regimen there were zero cases of ICH.(5)(6)

It is recommended that prevention begin in the last month of pregnancy by increasing your intake of vitamin K1 rich foods (especially high in many green leafy vegetables). A list can be found here.

References:

1. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/112/1/191.full
2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1392886
3. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/112/1/191.full
4. http://www.medicinenet.com/vitamin_k-injection/page2.htm#SideEffects
5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9039517
6. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/418329_5

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