Dangers of refusing vitamin K shots at birth

The AP reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that “four Nashville-area infants suffered brain or stomach bleeding earlier this year,” and that all four “were treated with vitamin K and survived.” In each case, the parents had refused a routine vitamin K shot, due to “a belief that the shots weren’t necessary or cause leukemia.”

The Tennessean reported that in response to reports by Vanderbilt University physicians that “a rare bleeding disorder in babies was becoming more common after parents refused vitamin K injections at birth,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden issued a statement that the refusal to administer “vitamin K at birth is an emerging trend that can have devastating outcomes,” adding that “a vitamin K injection at birth is critical to protect infants.”

Dr. Lauren Marcewicz of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities said, “It is important for health professionals to educate parents about the health benefits of vitamin K at birth.”

The three babies who suffered brain bleeds face developmental challenges.

The shots have been given as standard practice since 1961 to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding, a disorder that can cause hemorrhaging in the brain and intestinal tract. The risk for developing the disorder has been estimated at 81 times greater among infants who did not receive a vitamin K injection at birth than in infants who do receive it.

Enter your email to subscribe to Dr. Walt's blogs.

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Dr. Walt Larimore will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.