Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Newborn Vitamin K Shot

I am left quite astonished when parents do not question and have no interest in the newborn procedures performed routinely in hospitals. If you have a baby you are probably aware that he/she was given a Vitamin K shot at birth. So what is this shot really? Just a good vitamin, right? It is supposed to aid in clotting and can be life saving for those babies that have bleeding in the brain (occurs in 5 out of 100,000 babies).

So what happens to the the 99,995 babies that do not develop the intracranial bleeding but are injected anyway? Here is some info that might clarify things:

"The downside of this practice however is a possibly 80% increased risk of developing childhood leukemia. While a few studies have refuted this suggestion, several tightly controlled studies have shown this correlation to be most likely.4,5 A more recent analysis of six different studies suggests it may be a 10 or 20% increased risk. This is still a significant number of avoidable cancers.6

Apparently the cell division that continues to be quite rapid after birth continues to depend on precise amounts of vitamin K to proceed at the proper rate. Introduction of levels that are 20,000 times the newborn level, the amount usually injected, can have devastating consequences."

4. L. Parker et al., "Neonatal vitamin K administration and childhood cancer in the north of England: retrospective case-control study," BMJ (England) 316, no. 7126 (Jan 1998): 189-93.

5. S.J. Passmore et al., "Case-control studies of relation between childhood cancer and neonatal vitamin K administration," BMJ (England) 316, no. 7126 (Jan 1998): 178-84.

6. E. Roman et al., "Vitamin K and childhood cancer: analysis of individual patient data from six case-control studies," Br J Cancer (England) 86, no. 1 (Jan 2002): 63-9.

So being pregnant I decided, hey, why don't I look at the Vitamin K shot insert from Merck, the company that manufactures it and see what it says. Common sense, right? So I did and I quote the wording straight from the insert:

"WARNING - INTRAVENOUS USE Severe reactions, including fatalities, have occurred during and immediately after the parenteral administration of AquaMEPHYTON* (Phytonadione). Typically these severe reactions have resembled hypersensitivity or anaphylaxis, including shock and cardiac and/or respiratory arrest. Some patients have exhibited these severe reactions on receiving AquaMEPHYTON for the first time. The majority of these reported events occurred following intravenous administration, even when precautions have been taken to dilute the AquaMEPHYTON and to avoid rapid infusion."

Do you see anything wrong with that? I don't know about you, but I can't allow something to be injected into my baby that clearly reads on the label that death is a side effect. Hm, I wonder if this has anything to do with the embarrassing infant mortality rate in the US that keeps falling behind other developed countries year after year - Cuba ranks better than us. Nobody but you, the parent, is liable for your child, that is why you sign a ton of papers upon admission without exception.

I also have an interesting observation, my sister-in-law and my cousin both gave birth in the same hospital, 6 days apart, both are first time moms. One newborn received all the routine procedures and the mother gave birth with an epidural, the other had no epidural and opted out of all newborn procedures. The first baby had jaundice and the mother had trouble breastfeeding, the latter had absolutely no issues with the newborn or breastfeeding. Of course, you can't conclude anything from a comparison of two people, and there are many factors involved - but I would rather be the second mom than the first. Could it be that all of our man-made interventions are the cause of problems in newborns? Please comment with your opinion.

Also peculiar, the second mother that gave birth without medical intervention was confronted by the nurse who was taking care of her - confronted in a good way. What she said went something like this "I admire you for questioning the necessity of all these procedures, it is very rare that any parent does, they usually have no idea. The thing is that I am not allowed to tell parents just how unnecessary and detrimental to newborn health these things are, none of my own children got the shots or injections."


  1. Thank you for the information. I am expecting my forth child any day now and the vitamin K shot issue was raised by my midwife. I haven't had any of my children immunized, and I don't plan to start, but I was wondering about vitamin K. It sounds like a good thing, but then you never quit know what else they add.
    Thank again for the information.

  2. I have never even heard about vitamin K in any pregnacy/baby magazines. I am shocked that the nurse is not allowed to tell about the possible negative effects of these shots. I wish I knew this before I had my three babies. We trust that doctors will take the best care of us and our kids, and it turns out that sometimes they are just in the business of selling drugs!

  3. hi, my name is Nikita im from new zealand an i am 19yrs old and about to become a first time mum. Im currently 12 days away from my due date and my midwife informed me about this vitamin k shot that they give new borns if we(the parent)give permission.She advised me to do some reasearch and told me i quote 'there is no black and white''just two sides to the story,she had to do a paper on the subject and found herself to be confused about the whole thing as there was no 'black or white'there were no 'yes you should do it' and 'no you shouldnt' at this point in my reasearch i find im favouring to go against the idea,your reasearch and comments in the matter ive taken into consideration.after all breat milk does provide the baby with vitamin k so really what is the point?... my reasearch continues.thanx.

  4. I think you should read about the benefits as well. those studies about leukemia are not showing any data conclusive with any increase risk. The vitamin K politics has been adquired around the world because it saves babies lives by preventing debastating events like intracraneal bleeding. The side effects you are posting are related with intravenous administration of the component, not the intramuscular administration that is rountenly being use every where. Thanks God the risk of bleeding is low, but it does not mean that does not deserve to be prevented if possible. I always wonder with all this politics of not letting doctors do their jobs... 'what is wrong with prevention?' Preventive medicine have change health in a better way in you developed countries. Maybe you have not seen enough bad disease around to be a little be more afraid of them, or take advantage of your health care.

  5. I think it's great that you're sharing this information. I'm in a Doula class, looking up the benefits and risks of several different interventions and procedures. It's really amazing what the medical community does not tell you. I'm all for birthing as natural as possible and am greatful that there is a wealth of information if you know where and how to look it up.

    Thanks for being an advocate.

  6. As a woman planning pregnancy at the moment, I find this one of the hardest decisions. Do I or don't I?
    A family member of mine gave birth to a beautiful healthy little boy- immediately after receiving the Vitamin D injection, he had an allergic reaction and is now brain damaged, yes of course this is one in a million chance but then again you take the same chance not having the injection. I understand there is a lot of benefits but I just find this is a very hard decision to make, something I will investigate further.

  7. I highly doubt you can call giving an injection of Vit K or any shot at birth for that matter preventative medicine. This is, what is going very wrong for the U.S. and the declining of chronic childhood diseases. We here on the side of whats best for out child not the drug manufacturer's pocket book appreciate your thoughts.

  8. As has already been pointed out - that product information is highlighting side effects of intravenous use - NOT intramuscular which is injection route when given to a newborn. Therefore this information is misleading. The leukemia risk - that most recent research does now dispute - nothing has been found to show Vitamin K as carcenogenic and only relates to the intramuscular/injection route. HOWEVER you can choose to have it administered orally to your baby as none of the research has found any link between this and and any childhood cancers. Should anyone, as indeeed their total choice, choose not to give permision for Vitamin K then pleaseplease do make sure u know what to look out for and be aware this serious (often fatal) bleeding can occur up to 12 months of age. That is not said to cause anxiety just so any choice is an informedone.

  9. To add
    That in countries where after shock headlines in the 1990's over possble link with cancer they stopped routine Vitamin K phrophylaxis deaths and disability rates due to Vitamin K deficiency bleeding increased dramatically. Just do consider or ask about oral route which has no links (confirmed or possible)

  10. I think people often forget that women have been giving birth for thousands of years. What happened before the Vit K injection? Babies still lived!!! The main stream media and the Big Pharma operate in FEAR. It is sad to me that we as humans think that our way is better than God's way. I'm pretty sure when God made the human race he knew that we would need Vit K. This is one great reason to breastfeed immediately after birth. There have been studies that show a newborn, if left alone will actually crawl its way up to the mother's chest to feed. Breastmilk has what the baby needs and it's better than anything man can make. My biggest advice to moms is this: Don't be controlled by the fear of Big Pharma.

  11. Vitamin K is basicaly an IQ killer
    tests done in mice, you can clearly see that the brain 'goes to 'sleep' almost instantly for about 3-8 hours and its activity whil be reduced for aproc 20-35 hours after its used on mice .its the only effect thats 100%
    so what ewer you do do not allow anyone to give your newborn this 'Vitamin shots' ewer, Iq in syblings (mice) drop is aproc 13-27% so similar effects whil be on your newborn,s

  12. There are good things about vaccines and bad things about vaccines (vit. K shot is just a vaccines against intercranial bleeding). Loosely defined of course.

    The bottom line is this. do you own research and you will find arguments from both sides that outline the risk/rewards. I have had 2 reactions to vaccines in my family, one resulting in a deadly auto-immune response called hyper-eosiniphilia in my brother and one resulting in a less dangerous auto-immune response in me, celiacs disease, and a possible third in my father. All showed up within a week to a month (for my dad) after the Hep. B Vaccine (not my dads, i forget what his was), and i have been researching ever since.

    what bothers me most is that if i request that my child not get these vaccines, and there are a TON of them, than he is denied access to some hospitals, schools, and i am looking at possible child endangerment charges. They say im playing russian roulette with my childs health...i say they are. Vaccines serve a purpose for the masses, but doctors have to remember to look at INDIVIDUAL situations when deciding what is best for a particular patient. Ask your kids doctor if he/she will sign something saying that they guarentee nothing bad will happen to your child as a result of a vaccine, and they will NEVER do it because they know that sometimes things happen. If they do sign it, they should be reported to the authorities. Even the vaccines themselves come with warnings, yet if you decide not to use them as a parent you are looked at as a conspiracy theorist loon. It's shameful. My nephew got only the tetnus vaccine (who gets diptheria these days anyway), and he is the healthiest kid at his school. Everyone else constantly has earaches, chonic problems, and unexplainable symptoms, but he's healthy as a horse. That doesn't mean that he's healthy because he didn't get vaccinated, it just proves that you can be healthy without.

    PS. my research shows that up to 50% of Hep B vaccinated people lose immunity in 7 years anyway. Sex, drugs, blood transfusion. that's how you get it. If the mom doesn't have it, why vaccinate against it at such a young age? because they can't get the "at risk" people in to get vaccinated. Look it up. They target kids in an effort to NOT have to target those succeptible later.

  13. I have been studying this extensively for the last few days and pulling every study regarding the shot that I can find (thanks to my husband's subscription to major medical journal databases at school) and you seem to have a few things incorrect.

    Regarding the patient insert package...the shot can result in anaphylactic shock (which can result in death) if given by IV (intravneously). This is not true of the shot (IM or intramuscular).

    Also a recent study in 2000 ruled out any link between childhood leukemia and the shot. The studies you are citing are outdated.

    After all my research I'm still concerned about the connection to Jaundice with the shot and the proper dosing for the oral drops. These 2 things seem to be understudied. Currently there is no FDA approved manufacturer for the drops and the schedules for dosing once you leave the hospital vary among sources of information.

  14. Awesome that a nurse was able to confide that information and shame on the medical community for the "gag" order!!! What every happened to informed concent?

  15. I'm a pediatrician at a major medical center in the United States. Over last night, I admitted a 5-week old infant to our Intensive Care Unit with hemorrhagic disease of the newborn. This infant did NOT receive vitamin K after birth and as a result, she will have significant permanent brain damage. She will not go to college; she may never even feed herself or be able to speak. I wish her mother had chosen to give her vitamin K after birth.

  16. Thank you for all your comments! I would much prefer real vitamin K than a synthetic man-made shot. It is too bad that most moms-to-be are deficient in vitamins in their diet and eat junk food void of nutrients, so they end up with babies that are just as deficient in necessary nutrients. I don't think a shot should fix this, but a healthier lifestyle. But that's just my opinion, and many people are not willing to change the way they eat for better health!

  17. I think this post is interesting, but you need to be careful who you listen to on here. For instance, one person can't even spell correctly... I would personally not take their advice. As far as vaccines go, the approach of "why does my kid need to be immunized against diptheria, no one gets that anymore", while this is fine now if nobody gets their children vaccinated, it will come back, that is how these diseases become so scarce in the first place because of vaccinations. Also, I personally could not live with myself if I chose not to get the vitamin K injection, and then my son had had brain damage from bleeding from the brain. Think of the birthing process and how much pressure and how hard of a journey it is for your baby. There is a good change that they could possibly have some small bleeds and the vit. K injection will help heal those. Also, unfortunately allergic reactions occur to many different things in this world, but we can't stop our children from experiencing or having everything can we?

  18. I will be a 1st time Mum in 11 weeks and will declining the Vit K injection at birth. I am still considering oral drops (will check for aluminium content) but providing I continue an unmedicated pregnancy on a healthy diet, I have a natural birth as planned (gratefully I'm low risk) and I am able to breastfeed in first 24 hours, I see no reason why my newborn would need 300 times more vitamin K than is recommended for an adult, injected straight into his bloodstream! This may be why some babies then develop jaundice, as an overdose effect of the drug because the liver cannot deal with the it. In turn, jaundice can cause kernicterus (brain damage from high bilirubin levels) and haemolysis. Also Benzyl Alcohol as an added preservative has been associated with toxicity in newborns. I got this information from this page which I have also found useful in my research.
    The author cites medical journals and pharma literature and it is well worth reading.

    In response to the peditrician's comment, that is awful and tragic; the Vit K may have saved this poor baby's health and the mother's sanity but there are other factors to consider such as did the mother have a medicated pregnancy or labour? Were there any other reasons why her baby would be at risk from VKBD such as poor diet or family history?

    I often questioned people who have a negative view of vaccines, coming out with the same arguments as some on here. I was then asked which studies I based my opnions on. I admitted I hadn't looked at any and I only held my opinions because it was what I was told to think by the government and the 'holy writ' of medical science. I am glad my attention had been brought to this subject because I could not live with myself if I let my baby have the shot, knowing it was probably unnecessary and he had an adverse reaction, or if I had done no research whatsoever into the safety of newborn procedures. We have to remember that the one-size-fits-all approach to modern medicine is more to do with big pharma money rather than our welfare. There is always an element of experiment too. For example, I was a BCG ginuea pig in the 90s. I don't know if this injection at 13 was linked to the headaches and chronic fatigue I suffered after it and which lasted years, but now I know that the BCG is no longer given in UK schools because the risk of contracting tuberculosis is so small according to the NHS website. This statement, coming from the government health website is in direct contradiction to the argument that we only don't have some diseases anymore because of vaccination programmes. If that were true than they would continue to give BCGs regardless. The decline of disease is also alot to do with sanitation and clean drinking water.

  19. I'm currently pregnant with my second child, with my first, I didn't even question the vit K shot, with this one, I'm refusing the shot and considering drops. I believe it's unnecessary and cruel to a newborn baby who has already gone through the trauma of childbirth, also with all the additives and whatnot, microchips probably. I'm also against immunizations, we live in a generation where everything is sanitized and almost everyone immunised, and as a result, we've had some epidemics (which are happening more frequently) of super bugs which are resistant to antibiotics. Our immune systems need to grow as a child so that they're better prepared to fight off infections.

  20. Very interesting. I gave birth to my 4th child last year in a low risk midwife led unit in England. My 3 previous births were all at home. I was never even offered the vitamin k injection with my home births so was surprised when they offered it to me in the hospital. My midwife told me it was my choice and I was free to refuse, which I did, but then went in to tell me I would be visited by a doctor who would try to insist this injection was administered. I told her that was fine but there would no grounds for me or my husband to change our minds on someone giving my 1 hour old son an injection which was poisonous and listed the ingredients. No doctor ever appeared.

  21. I am a first time mother and very worried about this topic. Unfortunately, I live in New York. The law here is that you cannot reject the Vitamin K shot! you can reject the hepatitis B shot and even the PKU based on religious reasons but you cannot reject the Vit.K shot and the eye ointment. If you deny those, the hospital calls automatically social services and they can take away your child from you. I am planning to give birth at a birthing center with a natural birth in the Roosvelt hospital but I am seriously considering to switch to a home birth , this is the ONLY way to avoid all these horrible procedures. Crazy.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I didn't know that about NY! It's beyond me how anything like an injection can be made mandatory, I'm afraid it will only get worse in the coming years. I am considering home birth in the future, but thankfully the birth center where I had the last birth was great, no requirements of any kind.

  22. I would like to share my story.
    My son was born almost 4 months ago. He is my 2nd born. Our first son was born in a hospital, and I was a bit traumatized by it, so I decided to go with a wonderful midwife this time. She did not plan to administer the Vitamin K shot and I was ok with that, I really wanted him to have a natural birth with no unnecessary injections. I didn't research Vitamin K before he was born.
    Labor was rough, I ended up being transported to a hospital where a wonderful doctor delivered our son, with the midwife by my side. I refused the vitamin K when they asked me. A nurse questioned us but didn't tell us why she thought it would be a good idea.
    I just thought since we weren't circumcising and he wasn't a premie and I ate healthy that everything would be fine.
    At 16 days old his umbilical cord fell off and bled a little. It kept bleeding a little more everyday until on day 21 I took him to the pediatrician. He didn't have a vit K shot in his office so we decided we'd give him the shot asap and scheduled an appointment with a hematologist 2 days later to have his clotting factors tested. Those next 2 days the umbilicus bled more and more, although it had been cauterized. He cried a lot.
    The day we were in the hematologist's office, he began having seizures. I didn't know what they were at first, but when the hematologist heard his cries and felt his fontanel, which was tense and full, (she was out of the room for his seizing episode), she had us rush him downstairs to the ER.
    In the ER he immediately received antibiotics and was stuck several times to get an IV--imagine seeing your newborn getting an IV. When they saw him seize (the last one lasted 6 minutes) they started giving him anti-seizure meds. In a CT scan they found bleeding in his brain. We told them he didn't have Vitamin K at birth. They gave him the shot and Fresh Frozen Plasma because his clotting factors were worthless. They decided he should be transported to a Children's Hospital NICU. The clotting factors immediately began improving.
    In the NICU he had 2 more CT scans, which added up to 3 CT scans in 12 hours. More blood drawn. More X rays. More IV's and antibiotics, and eventually a PICC Line, and a blood transfusion. Oh, I forgot to mention that he also had pneumonia, so he had to be on antibiotics for 7 days. He got better. We were in the NICU for 2 weeks.
    Our favorite nurse there said when he arrived he had no blink reflex.
    Had we not been so close to the first ER and gotten him the clotting factors he needed, things would have been a lot worse. He will be on anti-seizure meds the rest of this year, at least. He hasn't had any more seizures since being in the hospital but he is at great risk for them because blood really irritates the brain. He is a very healthy and normal almost 4 month old, hitting his milestones. Only time will tell what damage was done to his brain. When there is bleeding in the brain, it destroys the tissue. Thankfully God made little babies' brains able to overcome that.
    But I know of 3 other boys that almost died from their brain bleeds, and they have considerably more damage than my son.
    My advice is to get the shot. It's worth it.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story Kendall. That must have been heartbreaking to watch! When our daughter was two weeks old I also had to endure watching an IV put in her, it was horrible! Especially when they were having a hard time finding a vein - I get lightheaded just thinking about those moments now.

      I have personally never heard of any babies with brain bleeds, but your personal story really puts things in perspective. My kids didn't have any shots and were just fine. I guess we really never know. Thank you for sharing your story so that other parents can read it when they come to this article and make their own decisions.

      So glad your baby made it through this!

    2. :) Kendall and I have been able to connect, thanks to the internet. Our stories are similar. :)

      I have 6 children. 5 were homebirths, all 6 were completely natural births. None of my children have had any shots, in fact up until my 6th child none of my kids ever needed antibiotics. We had been healthy. Praise God.

      My 6th was born at home. Wonderful waterbirth. As with my others, we did not give him the vitamin K shot. Our first weeks were normal. But at 5 weeks of age we almost lost him to late onset hemorrhagic disease of the newborn.

      More of Judah's story can be read at

      I cannot explain the regret and guilt I've carried and how much I wish I could go back and give him that shot. To think all of what we've endured these past 2 years could have possibly been prevented? It's really caused us to pause, step back, and re-evaluate.

    3. Thank you for sharing your story as well! I've been reading some of your posts. You are an amazing mom, and not just because you're homeschooling 6 kids! Thank you so much for sharing your story and what God has been doing in your life, I hope it will help more moms make a decision on the Vitamin K shot.

  23. Thank you Anastasia. We all wish we knew why babies have a problem with clotting early on. The reason I advise getting the shot is that you don't know if your baby will have trouble or not, there's just no way to know. And the oral drops have not been proven to be as effective particularly with the Late Onset Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn (HDN). It can present at first in several different ways (for me it was the umbilicus bleeding, for others it can be bruising on the body, being lethargic, underlying liver problems, Cystic Fibrosis). My son did not have any Vitamin K, intramuscular or oral prior to his hemorrhage. But in several studies that I have read, it seems that there have been hemorrhages even with a good regimen of oral drops. Over 50% of babies who develop Late Onset HDN have intracranial hemorrhages. That means possible brain damage and/or hydracephalus. My son is still at risk for developing hydracephalus.

    The way I look at it now, is that childhood cancer caused by Vitamin K injection at birth has not been confirmed. But Early, Classic, and Late Onset HDN is a real threat to many newborns. You can't eat enough greens before birth because the Vitamin K is a macromolecule and does not cross the placenta well. It also has a hard time coming into the breastmilk. I have a VERY good supply of milk and my son nursed well from the beginning, exclusively. I was eating 3 big meals a day and taking liquid chlorophyll and a prenatal Vitamin after giving birth. It was very surprising to us that he got sick.

    Stanford has some good info. If you have questions, ask several pediatricians and OB's and neonatologists and pediatric hematologists what they're thoughts are about it and from there make your own decision. Don't just take peoples' word for it like I did.

    1. Thanks for sharing that resource with us. It looks like celiac disease and maternal antibiotics are linked to that as well. That's interesting to me because as a child I was sick and on antibiotics for months at a time (doctors didn't know any better back then in the country I came from) and now I have a gluten sensitivity (just recently discovered, didn't know all these years what was wrong with me). I'll have to update this post with more information, thank you so much for chiming in!


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