Vitamin K for Newborn Babies
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What is Vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a vitamin which is needed for normal blood clotting.
Do all Babies need Vitamin K?
Babies are born with lower levels of Vitamin K than adults. There is usually enough Vitamin K is in the baby’s system but on the rare occasion they may not have the right amount which may cause severe bleeding in the first few weeks of life. This is a condition known as Vitamin K deficiency bleeding or VKDB. Vitamin K has been given at birth to millions of babies since the 1950s because it
protects them against VKDB. In line with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on Routine Postnatal Care for Women and Babies (2015), all babies at Milton Keynes University Hospital are offered Vitamin K.
How common is Vitamin K deficiency bleeding?
Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) is now rare because national guidance supports the giving of Vitamin K to babies when they are newborn and this good practice is widespread across the country.
Are any babies at special risk of VKDB?
Some babies may be at higher risk, this includes:
• Babies who are premature
• Babies who are failing to take or absorb feeds
• Babies who may have had a traumatic delivery
• Babies who are not well
• Babies whose mothers have been receiving medication associated with a higher risk of bleeding in the newborn period e.g. anticonvulsant drugs (medicine given for epilepsy).
Can Vitamin K be harmful?
There is no proven evidence to suggest that Vitamin K given to newborn babies can be harmful.
How is Vitamin K given?
At Milton Keynes University Hospital soon after birth Vitamin K is either given as a single injection, or it is given orally. The injection provides sufficient protection – no further doses are required.
If your baby is at increased risk of Vitamin K deficiency or bleeding, your midwife or doctor will recommend the injection rather than giving Vitamin K orally. When Vitamin K is taken orally it needs to be given at regular intervals. Your baby will receive the first dose soon after birth.
A second dose is given between four and seven days after birth. If at home the Community Midwife will administer as part of the routine checks on day five. A third dose is given at four weeks of age. This is due to levels of Vitamin K in breast milk varying. Babies who are fully breast-fed will require this to prevent late VKDB. For bottle-fed babies no further dose is required as Vitamin K is added to artificial formula.
You will need to get a prescription from your GP for Vitamin K and arrange for this to be given by the Practice Nurse or Health Visitor.
We hope this information along with the discussion with your Midwife or Doctor will enable you to make an informed decision before you go into labour about giving Vitamin K to your baby. Your decision will be recorded in your electronic maternity records.
During labour, the Midwife looking after you will confirm your preference for how your baby will receive Vitamin K and gain consent to give it. Your decision will be recorded in the birth records.
Where can I get further information?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) website gives detailed information into Vitamin K. Your Midwife or Paediatrician would be happy to discuss Vitamin K with you, just ask.
Community Midwives – 01908 996 484 (between the hours of 9:00am-11:00am)
Labour Ward – 01908 996 471
ADAU – 01908 993 939
National Childbirth Trust – 0300 3300 771 www.nct.org.uk
NHS Website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-k/ Telephone: 111
Department of Health (1998) Vitamin K for newborn babies. PL/CMO/98/3; PL/CNO/98/4. [Online]. Available from: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20000815094022/http://www.doh.gov.uk:80/cmo/cmo98_3.htm [Accessed 18 November 2019] Note that this document has been archived.
Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Vitamin D prophylaxis in newborn babies. MIDW/GL/117. Version 4, 2019.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2006, updated 2015) Postnatal care up to 8 weeks after birth. Clinical guideline [CG37] [Online]. Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg37 [Accessed 18 November 2019]