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Vitamin K Shot At Birth: Importance, Safety And Side Effects

When you have a newborn in the house, there’s a lot that goes on. Besides them being weighed and measured, there are things like drops being put in their eyes, and even that first Hepatitis B Vaccine being administered to them. But are you well apprised of the importance of taking that Vitamin K Shot?

The Importance of a Vitamin-K Shot at Birth

In a nutshell, your baby needs that Vitamin-K shot to prevent bleeding. Just one vitamin K newborn shot, is all it takes to safeguard your infant.

The thing is, Vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient that assists our body in forming those blood clots, which are of course essential to stop bleeding. Babies have very little vitamin K in their bodies when they are born, and hence it becomes imperative to prevent that ‘risk of bleeding’, with a shot administered in your baby’s thigh, typically within 6 hours of birth.

What exactly is VKDB?

VKDB stands for Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding. It’s interesting to note, that while this bleeding can occur outside the body, it can also occur inside as well, where parents cannot see it. Internal bleeding? Reason enough to set those alarm bells ringing! After all, your baby might be bleeding in their intestines or even into their brains, and you might not know it at all. The sad news is, brain bleeding occurs in half of the children that develop VKDB, and it can lead to brain damage or even death!

The 3 Types of vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding

Yes, there are different kinds of vitamin K deficiency bleeding!
· Classical. This is the kind that occurs between 2 days and a week after birth, and doctors are still in the dark as to why it does.
· Early-onset. True to its name, this one starts within the first 24 hours of the child’s birth. Check the medications the baby’s mother might be taking; they might just be responsible for the same.
· Late-onset. This one can start anywhere from a week to around 6 months of the baby’s age and is rarer than the other types – roughly 1 in every 25,000 babies.

Is It Safe to Give my Baby a Vitamin K Shot?

It’s natural for every parent to ask this question. Grown adults have refused taking the Covid-19 vaccine; of course some will be skeptical of shots administered to their babies!

You can rest assured that the infant Vitamin K shot is perfectly safe. How it works is like this: The vitamin K infused into the baby’s body via that injection, is stored in their liver and gradually released over months. This helps maintain the requisite amount of Vitamin K in the baby’s body, until they are old enough to eat solid food and acquire that vitamin K therein.

Besides the essential vitamin K (Phytonadione), there are other ingredients in that vitamin K newborn shot that are perfectly safe. These include:

Dextrose. You’ve probably heard of this simple sugar that is completely safe for newborns.

Benzyl alcohol. This one acts as a preservative, and is used in extremely small quantities to prevent bacterial contamination in the shot.

Hydrochloride. Present in small amounts to adjust the pH of the solution.

Polyoxyethylated fatty acid derivative. This one’s used as both a solvent as well as emulsifier, to help keep that vitamin K in a dissolved form (remember we touched upon it being fat-soluble, earlier in this essay?)

While you might have stumbled upon reports of toxicity for benzyl alcohol, you can set those fears aside: the amount required to cause such an adverse reaction is 100 times higher than that present in the shot.

Note: While that Polyoxyethylated fatty acid derivative might cause allergic reactions in adults, your newborn’s immune system is not sensitized to allergens yet; so no need to panic.

The Side Effects of taking that Vitamin K Shot at Birth

Adverse side effects are the number one reason people don’t take medicines/shots of any kind. When it comes to their babies, they have good reason to be concerned about what the possible side effects of that infant vitamin K shot might be.

The good news is, there is no one specific side effect that might crop up when taking that vitamin K newborn shot. As with all shots, there might be the following side effects.
· Pain
· Bruising
· Swelling at the place the shot has been given
· Skin scarring at the site of injection (only a few cases have been reported so far)

Where to get that Vitamin K newborn shot

Now that you have seen the importance of that vitamin K shot in newborns, and knocked down any red flags that might stand in the way of getting that shot administered to your baby, let’s take a look at where your baby can get that shot administered.

The good news is, your doctor will probably keep you in the loop about the importance of that vitamin K newborn shot, as well as allay those fears related to the side effects of the vitamin K shot, during those prenatal visits. They will come up with a plan to have the shot administered soon after the birth of your child.

If you have opted for that vitamin K to be administered orally, your child will get the first dose when they are born, and the second at the time of the newborn screening test. The third will be given at the hospital by your doctor, or a healthcare worker assigned to the task. Make sure you follow the procedure to a tee, so your baby is well protected from that unwanted bleeding.

You must know that cases of VKDB have been on the rise, simply because VKDB is not all that common, and so parents have no idea just how dangerous it can be for their children. If there is a single thing that you might have wished to learn from this article, it is this: Make sure that you give your baby that vitamin K shot!

For more such informative blogs, visit the EuroKids website.

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