Vitamin K, The Newborn & Homebirth

Published on 10 July 2024 at 15:21

I believe it is so important for parent to be given all of the information including the risk and benefits of choosing or not choosing to administer a standard or routine procedure for themselves or their children. So my goal here is to give parents comprehensive information so that they may make their own decisions regarding their care.

What Is Vitamin K & Why Is It Needed?

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that is needed for blood coagulation. Insufficient amounts of Vitamin K can lead to clotting disorders allowing one to bleed out. It is commonly said that newborns have insufficient amounts of Vitamin K and therefore require Vitamin K administration immediately following birth in order for them to avoid bleeding out especially if circumcision is expected. This has become routine procedure in hospitals. In my opinion, if the mother ate well (including dark leafy greens) throughout pregnancy, most newborns contain sufficient amount of Vitamin K. Too much Vitamin K could harm the liver. Newborns don't begin to synthesize and create their own Vitamin K until around 6 months when they start eating solids. It is also theorized that newborns don't get very much Vitamin K through mothers' milk.

Indications and reason of administering Phytonadione (Synthetic Vitamin K) to a newborn include:

— anticoagulant-induced prothrombin deficiency caused by coumarin or indanedione derivatives;
— prophylaxis and therapy of hemorrhagic disease of the newborn;
— hypoprothrombinemia due to antibacterial therapy;
— hypoprothrombinemia secondary to factors limiting absorption or synthesis of vitamin K, e.g., obstructive jaundice, biliary fistula, sprue, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, intestinal resection, cystic fibrosis of the pancreas, and regional enteritis;
— other drug-induced hypoprothrombinemia where it is definitely shown that the result is due to interference with vitamin K metabolism, e.g., salicylates." 

I provide the adverse reactions and box warning label here for your information and informed decision making:

Risks of administering Phytonadione (Synthetic Vitamin K)

Deaths have occurred after intravenous and intramuscular administration. (See Box Warning.)
Transient “flushing sensations” and “peculiar” sensations of taste have been observed, as well as
instances of dizziness, rapid and weak pulse, profuse sweating, brief hypotension, dyspnea, and cyanosis.
Pain, swelling, and tenderness at the injection site may occur.


Boxed Warning

Severe reactions, including fatalities, have occurred during and immediately after INTRAVENOUS injection of phytonadione, even when precautions have been taken to dilute the phytonadione and to avoid rapid infusion. Severe reactions, including fatalities, have also been reported following INTRAMUSCULAR administration. 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 phytonadione for the first time. Therefore the INTRAVENOUS and INTRAMUSCULAR routes should be restricted to those situations where the subcutaneous route is not feasible and the serious risk involved is considered justified.



Other Alternatives to Increase Vitamin K in the Newborn Without Administering to them a synthetic Vitamin K:

Dark leafy greens and herbs such as alfalfa and nettles have high amounts of a naturally sourced Vitamin K. Consuming these throughout pregnancy will help the newborn have the adequate amount of Vitamin K he or she needs. I don't like the comparison of Vitamin K levels in a newborn to that of an adult. Newborns only weigh a fraction of an adult and we can't expect them to have the same levels of Vitamins as adults do. 


Some info to consider about Vit K:

“In order to absorb vitamin K we have to have a functioning biliary and pancreas system. The reason we give breastmilk (and delay solids) until they are at least 6 months, and the reason breastmilk only contains a small amount of highly absorbable Vit K, is because infants digestive systems are not fully developed at birth and too much Vit K could harm the liver and cause brain damage. As baby ages and the digestive tract, mucosal lining, gut flora, and enzyme functions develop, baby can process more Vit K. So it makes sense that they have low levels of Vit K at birth. (and we don’t need to inject them with a high amount of synthetic Vit K.)
Cord blood contains stem cells, which protect a baby against bleeding and perform all sorts of needed repairs inside an infants body. In order for a baby to get this protective boost of stem cells, cord-cutting needs to be delayed and the blood needs to remain thin so stem cells can easily travel and perform their functions.
Babies are born with low levels of Vit K compared to adults, but this level is still sufficient to prevent problems.
Several clinical observations support the hypothesis that children have natural protective mechanisms that justify their low vitamin K levels at birth. I don’t know about you, but we should probably figure out why that is before we inject now and worry about it later.
Do you know why Vit K is pushed on parents and their children? Because pharmaceutical companies don’t like to lose money, doctors don’t like to be questioned, the American Academy of Pediatrics dare not change its recommendations.” -Pediatrician Anonymous


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