Written by Bindu Raichura
You would have heard a few things about Vitamin K. Most people believe that Vitamin K is potassium. Unfortunately, that is not true. Vitamin K is a vitamin, like other vitamins, hence the name. Potassium sure is essential for the body, but it is a mineral.
If you were wondering what Vitamin K is and why it is crucial for babies, don’t fret. Follow along, and you’ll get to know exactly what you need to understand about the importance of a Vitamin K shot and its dose for babies.
In This Article
Like every other vitamin, vitamin K is important for our body. When it comes to blood clotting, maintaining calcium levels in the blood, and bone metabolism, vitamin K plays a vital role. Vitamin K helps the body produce prothrombin, a protein and a factor that helps blood clot.
When a baby is born, there can be many complications. One of them is Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB). Although it is rare, if a baby is facing it, it bleeds uncontrollably. The bleeding doesn’t stop as the baby is deficient in vitamin K.
Here is one more thing to know about it. Babies do not get enough vitamin K from their mothers, not even from breast milk. So, if newborns start bleeding due to its deficiency, it is difficult to stop.
All newborns are vitamin K deficient. The baby does not get enough vitamin K from the mother as it does not pass through the placenta easily. And as mentioned earlier, breast milk contains small amounts of vitamin K. So, babies need to be supplied with vitamin K from outside.
Almost every newborn is likely to develop Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding till they start eating regular food. That is when the bacteria in our intestines start making our own vitamin K. Till then, babies can be vitamin k deficient. It is also called Haemorrhagic Disease of New-Borns. There are other factors as well:
VKDB usually occurs in the first week after birth. It may damage internal organs and cause internal bleeding, which can be fatal. There are three kinds of VKDB:
The first way of checking whether a baby is vitamin k deficient or not is by looking for the symptoms. These are the symptoms that you need to look out for:
If the baby is vomiting frequently with blood in it, it may be bleeding in the brain. You should seek help from a doctor if you observe any of the above symptoms in your baby.
For a newborn breastfeeding baby, the only source of nutrients is the mother’s milk. So as a mother, you can:
But all these measures don’t enrich the breast milk with vitamin K to a level that the baby requires. Breastmilk can never be enough, even if you are taking all the supplements.
The best way to ensure that the baby is not vitamin K deficient till it starts eating normal food is a Vitamin K shot right after the baby is born. There is an option of oral vitamin K drops as well, but it is not as effective as the shot.
The vitamin K shot is an intramuscular injection, given on the right thigh. One vitamin K shot is good enough for several months. The oral drops need three doses for breastfed babies, and two doses for bottle-fed babies. We recommend the vitamin K shot over the oral drops as it is more effective than the oral drops
Like every other vaccine, this also has some ill effects. Here are some of the vitamin K shot side effects:
So far, there has been only one case where the baby suffered from an allergic reaction. So, any chance of a severe reaction due to a vitamin K shot is negligible. Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding can be fatal, if not taken care of early on. So, we would highly recommend getting this shot at birth. It is a good safety net to have.
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