Updated: Feb 2, 2018
Unfortunately, I feel like too many families out there are unfamiliar with what the vitamin K vaccine really is. So many parents trust their care providers, as they should, but I want to make sure that families get ALL the evidence based information needed to make the educated decision for their baby. Not just because their doctor said to.
Vitamin K is a vitamin that our bodies are unable to produce itself. This is why the vaccine was created to give to newborns. It serves as a supplement until the baby is able to consume foods that contain the vitamin, which is not until the baby has reached 6 months of age. Vitamin K deficiencies can cause severe bleeding and bruising, and even fatal damages to the brain. Deficiencies MUST be taken seriously and treated by a medical team. Medical studies have found that babies who are breastfed, opposed to formula fed, have a higher chance of having this deficiency.
So, now you know what this deficiency is. How common is it? Well, 0.25% to 1.7% of newborns who do NOT receive the vitamin K at birth will experience a deficiency. Crazy right? Although this deficiency is rare, it is spontaneous and can possibly lead to death. Vitamin K is very important to a newborn's health, but this vitamin that is found in the vaccine is made in a lab and contains some harmful components. It has been found that large doses of vitamin K have been linked to causes of childhood cancers and leukemia. Given that this minute old baby's organs are not functioning perfectly just quite yet, the thought of this harsh, synthetic mixture should be questioned more often.
What are some alternatives to this vaccine?
Oral vitamin K is a much less synthetic form of the vitamin. Medical professionals will argue that this oral form of the vitamin is not as efficiently absorbed. But that is an easy fix with a change to the dosage. This is a 3-dose regimen that consists of 1mg orally at birth, 1 mg 1 week later, 1 mg at 4-6 months. Most promising regimen is a weekly dose of this oral vitamin K for the first 6 months, but make sure to check with medical provider to ensure the dosing is correct for your baby. For those who chose to do the oral vitamin K, it is only recommended that these babies are breastfed, as many formulas contain vitamin K supplements. Another alternative is the vitamin K preservative free vaccine. You should call around to local hospitals to check to see if it is available to you, as some providers are not on board yet, or it is still in the works.
So what can you as a parent do if you chose to skip this vaccine completely?
Moms, eat lots of leafy greens during pregnancy! Greens such as kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and scallions are all high in vitamin K content. You can also breastfeed! Although doctors have said that breastfed babies have a higher chance of having a deficiency, breastfeeding will actually improve your baby's digestive system. This happens because the probiotics found in breastmilk allow growth of good bacteria which will produce naturally occurring vitamin K immediately after birth.
These are only some alternative options that have been studied regarding the vitamin K vaccine. In the end, it is the families decision to chose what option is best for their family.
xLove and Light Always,