ok. now let’s talk about Vitamin K.
A Vitamin K injection is routinely given to all newborns that are born in the hospitals in the United States. Vitamin K effects the bloods clotting abilities so with a low level, it predisposes the infant to bleeding problems. About every 1 in 10,000 babies is born with a vit k deficiency and in about half of babies who suffer this bleeding problem after the first week of life, many will die or sustain significant brain-damage due to the disease, because of bleeding into the brain. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends this as a routine procedure as there are no other signs of a vit k deficiency.
So it sounds like a no brainer for an infant to get a vit K injection right? well, lets look at the other side of the coin. First of all, this injection is usually given within the first few hours of the babies life. It can be traumatic physically and mentally. (Welcome to the world little one now let me stick this needle in your thigh and fill your system with toxins that I don’t even know about on the off chance that you are that 1 in 10,000) Well, if you are that 1, it is worth it and there are options. There is an oral option available so that eliminates the injection part. It also has it’s pros and cons so please do your research.
So then we move on to the “toxins” part. Make no mistake, the Vitamin K shot is a vaccine and as such, contains preservatives. There are also studies out there that link the vit k shot to childhood leukaemia. If you want to know more about what is in the injection that your child might get, ask your doctor to see the package insert BEFORE your child receives the injection and ideally before you give birth. Read the label and become and informed parent. We must also look at the dose that is being given. The amount if vit k is 20,000 times the newborn level at birth. This dose is based on an adult level and one of the side effects from too much vit k is jaundice. Vitamin K is also meant to be absorbed through the gut but given as an injection, it bypasses this system in a way the body was not meant to handle.
Lets take a step back for a moment and think. The rational behind the Vit K shot is that all newborns are born deficient in this wonderful thing so in order for the species to survive, we must give them this life-saving shot? I’m being a bit sarcastic but really, all babies born in the us NEED this shot? Where in other countries they don’t? Babies may be born with a naturally low level of vitamin K but guess what? Vitamin K is naturally found in colostrum! Once again, nature has designed a perfect system for the survival of the species. Vitamin K is also found in the dark green leafy veggies so mom can also load up on these in the last few weeks before birth. When babies receive vitamin k through the mom/colostrum they 1. process it though their gut, 2. are with their mom without interruption, 3. their levels gradually rise and peak on about the 8th day of life. 4. there are no additional chemicals put into the babies system for them to process, 5. we are honoring the perfection of nature.
Now, there are some risk factors that might sway a parent decision making process. If it was a traumatic birth including vacuum or forceps delivery or if the newborn will undergo a procedure where bleeding might occur (like circumcision, heel sticks or blood draws, or surgery of any kind), those may be valid reasons to get the shot. Delayed cord clamping can also help insure that the baby gets all of the blood, including vit K, that it needs.
The bottom line is to know your options and be an informed parent, question everything and make the best decision for YOUR family.
I first learned about this from the book “What Your Pediatrician Doesn’t Know Can Hurt Your Child:” by Susan Markel. http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Markel/e/B00467C0TW. There is also a great podcast with Dr. Markel from progressive parenting at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/progressive-parenting/2011/10/04/important-facts-about-what-happens-after-baby-is-born. For more information, please check out http://www.givingbirthnaturally.com/newborn-vitamin-k.html.