Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding in Newborn

Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB) is also known as Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn. It is a diseases which causes bleeding in newborn in initial days. In developing countries every 100 babies had some bleeding, and one out of every 1,000 babies had serious bleeding. This is due to deficiency of Vitamin K.

A brain bleed due to VKDB is very bad for the young brain. Many of these babies are disabled or die. In the developing world, where Vitamin K is often not given, VKDB is still a major health problem.

Reason of VKDB in newnorn

  • Infants get very little Vitamin K from mom during pregnancy.
  • At birth the baby’s blood level is very low compared to adults.
  • On days 2 and 3 of life, Vitamin K levels drop even further.
  • Infants require daily intake of Vitamin K, as little is stored up in the body.
  • Very little Vitamin K gets into mom’s breast milk, even if she takes a supplement.
  • Exclusively breastfed babies are at higher risk of bleeding, especially in the first days and weeks of life when they are getting low volumes of the mother’s milk.

Symptoms of VKDB?

  • Babies who do not get a vitamin K shot at birth might develop any of these signs of VKDB
  • Easy bruising especially around the baby’s head and face
  • Bleeding from the nose or umbilical cord
  • Paler than usual skin color or, for dark skinned babies, pale appearing gums
  • Yellow eyes after the baby is 3 weeks old
  • Blood in the stool, black tarry stool, or vomiting blood
  • Irritability, seizures, excessive sleepiness, or a lot of vomiting may all be signs of bleeding in the brain

Prevention of VKDB

Vitamin K injection is required to prevent VKDB as Vitamin K is so fatty, oral Vitamin K liquid requires a special solvent to be effective. All Vitamin K liquids are therefore not alike. We cannot assume the Vitamin K is working just because the baby swallows it.

Why is the injection better?

  • The injection places the Vitamin K in the muscle where it will be gradually released into the bloodstream over several weeks.
  • The injection avoids all the problems with unreliable absorption into the baby’s blood that we worry about with oral Vitamin K.
  • Vitamin K injection protects best against all types of VKDB, even the type that happens after 1 month of age
  • The shot can be given to your baby when she is skin-to-skin or on the breast.

Is Vitamin K Safe?

  • There are no known harmful systemic effects from a standard 1 mg shot. Large studies have not found an association between Vitamin K shots at birth and childhood leukemia.
  • Preparations used prior to the 1960s were associated with red blood cell destruction and high bilirubin. The currently available preparation does not cause this side effect, even when given in doses up to 25 mg.

Recommendation: Give your baby the 1 milligram injection of Vitamin K within 6 hours of birth to prevent bleeding and other life-threatening complications.

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