Vitamin K shots in newborns?


Vitamin K denotes a group of vitamins that are required for blood coagulations. Newborns are born with a slight Vitamin K deficiency.


Since the 1940s and 1950s Vitamin K has been given to the newborn in order to prevent haemorrhagic disease which may be fatal. The risk of haemorrhagic disease of the newborn - if it doesn’t receive Vitamin K - is about 2-10 cases per 100.000 births (Wikipedia).


Since the 1990 there is a scholarly discussion about the benefit and risk of Vitamin K administration in newborns. Golding et al. were linking Vitamin K with childhood cancer which triggered the research resulting in many newer articles with no convincing evidence that the Vitamin K shots is associated with childhood leukaemia (Parker et al)


However, we also should have a closer look what nature is providing us. In fact, from the colostrums, the first milk, the baby receives Vitamin K. In a Japanese-Chinese study the scholars realized that in women with a restricted intake of green-yellow vegetables the risk of haemorrhagic disease in newborn is increased.


That means even if there is no direct connection of vitamin K shots and childhood cancer the following points might help the new parents to decide:


  • An adult needs around 120micrograms/day but the baby should get a shot of 0.5 to 1mg or 10-20microgram/day.

  • Large doses of Vitamin K might cause allergic reaction, haemolytic anemia and may damage the liver cells – therefore over-the-counter Vitamin K supplements are banned in the USA

  • In every shot there are also some other chemicals which may harm the baby

  • Vitamin K is usually absorbed in the gut but the shot is intramuscular which the baby is not prepared to.

What else can be done:

  • Give the baby an oral dose (3 times 2mg on day 1, day 4-6 and week 4-6) which was suggested by the Austrian and German commission on that issue)

  • Nurse the baby immediately thus giving him the precious colostrum

  • Eat plenty of Vitamin K rich (green and yellow) vegetables in the last weeks of pregnancy

  • Even though the Vitamin K is not passing the placenta, Vitamin K passes the mammary glands thus providing the baby with the vitamin. That means the mother could take the supplement instead of the baby thus reducing the impact on the baby.