Infants Fall Ill After Parents Refuse Vitamin K Shot

newbornA few months before Eli was born, I read an article about a woman who was questioning the Vitamin K shot given to infants after birth. The mother was unconvinced that it was necessary and felt that it was a ploy by pharmaceutical companies, doctors and nurses to take more money from parents. To be perfectly honest, before I read that, I didn’t even know that such a shot existed and I definitely didn’t know why it was given, so I took some time to educate myself before Eli was born.

Vitamin K is an important component that helps blood to clot, which is obviously a pretty important thing for all of us, but it turns out that it’s especially important for newborns. Nearly all newborns do not develop sufficient Vitamin K for at least a week after birth, which puts them at a high risk for a condition known as Hemorrhagic Disease of Newborns. This can result in bleeding in the brain or other sites throughout the body and can have profound long term damage. And after our research, getting the Vitamin K shot was a no brainer for us.

But, as I learned in the news this week, not every parent agrees with our decision.

Recently, 4 newborns in Tennessee developed spontaneous bleeding in their stomachs and it was discovered that all 4 infants had not had the Vitamin K shot. The CDC was told that the parents decided to skip the shot believing that it wasn’t necessary (it is) or that it causes leukemia (it doesn’t). All 4 were treated with vitamin K and survived, thankfully.

I know that as parents it’s our job to advocate for our children and make sure that they are safe, but I am struggling to understand where this grave mistrust of conventional medicine came from. I don’t know if these parents did research before refusing the vitamin K shot, I don’t know if they have since changed their position, but I know that their decision was a dangerous one. While I can understand concerns about some medications and about giving a newborn a shot, when the alternative is uncontrolled bleeding in a newborn, I can’t imagine taking the risk.

I have since learned that there are other methods of supplementing vitamin K, but for me, I’ll take the tried and true method recommended by my pediatrician and obstetrician. Hopefully stories like this will help other mothers do good, quality research before making such important decisions with such significant consequences.

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