1. Vitamin K is offered in order to prevent a rare but serious blood clotting problem,
more commonly known as vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB).
2. Exact figures vary, but the chance of a baby experiencing VKDB if they don’t have vitamin K is about 1 in 11,000. Most babies who have VKDB will recover, especially if they receive treatment quickly. This is why it is important to be vigilant if you decide to decline vitamin K. A small number of the babies who experience VKDB will experience long-term damage and, sometimes, a baby will die. The actual chance of death from VKDB is very low, but if we give vitamin K to all babies, it’s even less likely.
3. Vitamin K can be given by mouth (day 0, day 7 & day 28) or by injection. Oral drops are not as effective as the injection.
5. Vitamin K is very safe, but there are a few downsides. The injection of vitamin K will occasionally result in infection, bruising or bleeding (as with any injection). Vitamin K hasn’t been well researched to know the possible side effects. The fact that so much is unknown makes the decision difficult for some parents.
6. You may decide to have oral vitamin K rather than the injection. In this situation, be aware that Vitamin K is fat soluble. So in order to be properly absorbed by the baby’s body, it should be given with or just after a feed. Also be aware that it tastes bitter. Many babies will try to spit it out again and you might want to have your finger ready to scoot it back in!
7. If your baby is breastfed and is slow to feed or has feeding problems, the chance of VKDB is higher and you may want to reconsider. If you or your baby have antibiotics, this can increase the chance of VKDB. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
It is good to look into all aspects of this decision to make sure that you are fully informed.