Why Do Newborns Receive a Vitamin K Shot?

It is important as a healthcare provider to promote awareness among families of anything related to the health and well-being of mom’s-to-be, their babies and families. When a baby is born, they are given a series of shots and vaccinations. One of these is vitamin K – required by New York State Department of Health (DOH) Law (Section 12.3 of Title 10), to be administered within six hours of birth. The shot is given to the baby intramuscularly (usually in their thigh). Why do newborns receive a vitamin K shot? The answer is quite simple – it is very important for the health of the baby.

Vitamin K is a nutrient that the body needs to clot blood and stop bleeding. We typically get enough vitamin K from good bacteria and the food that we eat. Newborns are typically vitamin K deficient at birth since, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is not easily shared between mom and baby during pregnancy and babies cannot make enough on their own. As such, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that a single dose (.5 to 1 mg) of vitamin K be given to newborns. Vitamin K is given to newborns because it prevents vitamin K deficiency bleeding or VKDB, a rare but life-threatening disease for newborns. A single shot can protect your baby and prevent VKDB.

Vitamin K is safe. According to the CDC, an early 1990s study found a possible link between childhood cancer and getting vitamin K. Due to this concern, pediatricians have since conducted multiple studies to determine if this link was true. No studies since then have been able to connect the two, therefore debunking this link.

As a parent, if you have any questions or continued concerns about vitamin K, we recommend that you speak with your pediatrician or healthcare provider.

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