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Vitamin K for the baby - pros and cons

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

What are people's thoughts on Vitamin K for the baby? I'm definitely not interested in giving the injection - too many risks and side effects. But I am considering the oral Vitamin K.

 

I've thought about this a lot - especially when I was in midwifery school. I kept thinking to myself that I didn't know what I would do for my own babe and here I am still don't know.

 

Part of me leans towards the aspect that babies are born with what they need and breastmilk has what they need, so why do we need to give the Vitamin K. Then there is the small, very small risk of bleeding and often there aren't signs until it is too late... As far as I can tell there are not any known negative effects of the oral Vitamin K - does anyone else know of any? If there aren't why not just give it just in case?

 

Around here some people choose the botanical Vitamin K. I'm usually very much in support of botanical versus synthetic/pharmaceuticals. However in this situation, I am not aware of any studies that show that the botanical vitamin k actually works the same as the synthetic - this makes me want to lean towards the pharmaceutical. Anyone know of any studies on botanical vitamin k?

 

Those of you not in the US - what is the recommendation there? I know it is not the same worldwide.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 15

I find it interesting that doctors didn't start giving vitamin k until they started practicing routine infant circumcision. Now they just give it to everyone, unless you dig into it and decide not to.  

I did with both of my girls because I didn't know any different. Now that I've researched it more, I'm deciding not to do it this time. (My MW doesn't do them either, so if I wanted it done, it would be at the ped's office.)  I thought about the oral, but also think that a baby's gut is way to precious to mess with so that's a no go over here. 

I'm interested to hear what other mama's thoughts are, too! Great topic! 

post #3 of 15

If I had a birth that I felt was traumatic for the baby physiologically, or a baby who would be dealing with many medical procedures right away, I would consider the injected vitamin K.  Otherwise, I don't see the need as long as I am fully breastfeeding.

post #4 of 15

I also believe in the virgin gut theory and worry about the oral vitamin K interfering with that.  Right now, I am leaning towards the injection.  I have read that even if you load up on Vitamin K foods before delivery, not enough makes it into your breast milk to be effective.

post #5 of 15

I recently read the article below (I posted a segment of it) and thought it made good points about a breast feeding mothers levels. We were reading up on it again this time too. With my last pregnancy I had just started researching vaccines and DH was comfortable with not vaxing but he felt strongly about the vitamin K so that is the one injection that DS has had in his life. This time we probably won't be doing any sort of vit K supplement, shot nor oral after we have read more over the last 3 years.

 

 

A Better Solution

The breastfed infant can be supplemented with several low oral doses of liquid vitamin K9 (possibly 200 micrograms per week for 5 weeks, totaling 1 milligram, even more gradual introduction may be better). Alternatively, the nursing mother can take vitamin K supplements daily or twice weekly for 10 weeks. (Supplementation of the pregnant mother does not alter fetal levels but supplementation of the nursing mother does increase breast milk and infant levels.)

Either of these provides a much safer rate of vitamin K supplementation. Maternal supplementation of 2.5 mg per day, recommended by one author, provides a higher level of vitamin K through breast milk than does formula (10), and may be much more than necessary.

http://drbenkim.com/vitamin-K-shot-baby.html

post #6 of 15

DS had the shot when he was born. For this baby, I'm inclined to skip it all together unless, as mamabeakly said, there is some trauma or liver burden (jaundice). I've been drinking very large quantites of nettle infusion throughout this pregnancy. Nettles are loaded with vit K. None of the medical literature will say that covers us, but folk wisdom indicates it's helpful.

 

For the non-US perspective, I couldn't find a blanket NHS policy for the UK. Each local trust seems to put out their own guidance. Flipping through a few of them, the consensus seems to be that 1) the link between childhood cancer and the vitamin K shot was based on a single study in the 90s and has since been disproven to the establishment's satisfaction; 2) they're very clear that you have the option to withold consent for vit K or to chose either the shot or oral administration; 3) if you chose the oral, babies get one dose at birth, another at 1 week, and usually a third dose at 1 month; 4) breastfeeding does *NOT* provide as much vitamin K as formula so the reccommendation is that BF babies must get all three doses of the oral. Here's a pamphlet that's typical of what I read: http://www.oxfordradcliffe.nhs.uk/forpatients/090427patientinfoleaflets/090804vitamink.pdf Also, here are the NHS research database results...https://www.evidence.nhs.uk/search?q=vitamin%20k%20at%20birth

 

I'd be curious to know how delayed cord clamping plays into clotting and all this vitamin K stuff. Anyone know?

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by cieloazul View Post

I'd be curious to know how delayed cord clamping plays into clotting and all this vitamin K stuff. Anyone know?

I have wondered the same thing. My thinking was like yours about the nettles and other high Vit K foods especially during late pregnancy. I can not find anything that talks about vitamin K levels with delayed cord cutting. I have looked and looked. I have read several articles from midwives who have suggested that this would provide baby with more vit K but I haven't really seen any true studies that back it up.

My thoughts are that if moms levels are high I don't know how it could NOT transfer to baby during delayed cord clamping. If all the extra iron and red blood cells transfer then why not K?
I also read a lot to suggest that vit K levels are higher in colostrum than mature breast milk. 

post #8 of 15

tropicana - thanks for posting that.  I definitely don't want to do the injection and was only planning to load up on vit K foods over the next couple months, but now think that the vit K supplementation for myself while nursing sounds like a great idea as well. 

post #9 of 15
What are the cons? My son had the oral one a few times which didn't seem to me to be a problem, but I didn't look into any negatives?
post #10 of 15

Lilac, I think the biggest con would be that it would cause issues with the baby no longer having a virgin gut. In the same way that it isn't best to give solids before 6 months old. Their gut needs time to "close" and anything introduced to the baby's gut before that point could be problematic.

post #11 of 15

http://www.gentlebirth.org/archives/vitktop.html

J
ust some resources that span many issues and both 'sides' of the debate. 

I personally am a purist and don't subscribe to the notion that modern medicine has somehow developed a better way of doing things in the last 100  years than evolution has over 10,000 years--so, I would have to be seriously convinced of the significant benefits of any substance or drug being given to myself or babe for any reason and I don't believe the science or the outcomes support it as being beneficial or necessary. Vitamin K injections have been linked to childhood cancers. My DD received an injection against our wishes and without our permission after birth and it was one of the huge factors in sending me into the depths of PPD. 

The oral dose 'issue' is in fact with the virgin gut 'camp' PLUS the notion that I explained above--the don't believe they need it 'camp'.

 

post #12 of 15

Thanks for the info Tropicana and mamaharrison!

post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaharrison View Post


The oral dose 'issue' is in fact with the virgin gut 'camp' PLUS the notion that I explained above--the don't believe they need it 'camp'.

 

Can you explain this more?  I'm not really sure what that means.

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaliki_kila View Post

Can you explain this more?  I'm not really sure what that means.

Well, there is a lot of info out there about open gut vs. closed gut and how introducing any forgeign substance into an infants digestive tract {medicine or anything not breastmilk} can have an adverse effect on the whole body system because the gut is still an open system and the foreign particles can then enter the bloodstream {and cause many different immune dysfunctions/issues} via the stomach and digestive tract--thus nothing but breastmilk should be ingested by infants/kiddos until the gut i considered 'mature'--here's a basic article about it http://kellymom.com/nutrition/starting-solids/delay-solids/

T
hen there is the thought that nothing that is truly essential for continuation of life is not provided for at the time of birth through some biological means. So, if babes are 'deficient' in vitamin K then it must be because they don't need it at that time or that there is some biological mechanism that provides for the 'deficiency' that perhaps we in modern times just haven't identified or are not relying on. For example, delayed cord cutting could be a contributing factor for not needing artificial vitamin K in infants because we are allowing ALL of babes blood and coagulant factors to go into their body vs. immediate clamping and cutting where the deficiency then becomes an issue if there is a traumatic bleed.

i basically subscribe to the second line of thinking, although I do understand the first well--I have many allergies and many are from 'leaky gut' from open system issues in youth. Personally, I just can't wrap my head around people being 'deficient' in things that are man made--it doesn't make sense for me. In other words, I don't think that anyone is deficient in pharmacueticals--when I am ill I typically don't take meds or administer them to DD {never have} because I think that the body knows more of how to heal than we give credit for and that synthetic substances just mess our biological functioning up. Now that is not to say that I believe it is a perfect system, but it is to say that I am more comfortable with the risks of relying on our basic biological functioning vs. the risks of administering synthetic drugs--in almost ALL circumstances. I think I am definitely not within our modern societal norm on that though ; )

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamabeakley View Post

If I had a birth that I felt was traumatic for the baby physiologically, or a baby who would be dealing with many medical procedures right away, I would consider the injected vitamin K.  Otherwise, I don't see the need as long as I am fully breastfeeding.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaliki_kila View Post

I also believe in the virgin gut theory and worry about the oral vitamin K interfering with that.  Right now, I am leaning towards the injection.  I have read that even if you load up on Vitamin K foods before delivery, not enough makes it into your breast milk to be effective.

http://www.vaclib.org/basic/vitamin-k.htm

 

I posted this link because I think it covers a lot of the issues involved.  Colostrum does in fact have a substantially higher level of vitamin K for baby.  Baby should have access as much as possible (which we know over the decades has been an issue due to hospital practices, etc.) to the breast immediately after birth.  

 

 

Vitamin K content and availability are greater in the hind milk because of its higher fat content and vitamin K levels are also higher in colostrum.32 As an extra plus, breastmilk contains thromboplastin, one of the factors in blood clotting.18  

 

Vitamin K levels in the breastmilk rise markedly in response to the mother eating vitamin K rich foods or taking vitamin K supplements.29, 54 Nishiguchi found no cases of low vitamin K levels in breastfed infants whose mothers had been given supplements, as opposed to infants who had only been given 1 or 2 doses of oral vitamin K.54

 

Unrestricted access to the breast in the early days after birth is important, due to the higher levels of vitamin K in colostrum.  The importance of early feeding has been recognised since the 1940's.  Babies who have been fed within their first 24 hours have significantly better coagulation times than babies not fed until after 24 hours.24  

 

I think that there is definitely an unknown risk involved...both oral and injectible give baby 300 to 900x higher plasma levels of vitamin K than that of an adult.  I think in this case medical science is sort of progressing forward with their own thinking until they are proven otherwise.  However those studies on potentially increased cancer risks are concerned.  Several European countries have protocol where they use a small daily oral dose that doesn't raise plasma levels high above normal for this.  However, it seems from reading the research that as long as mom makes sure she has adequate levels of vitamin K AND baby has full and free access to the breast after birth that baby should have good plasma levels of vitamin K.

 

That makes complete sense to me, because physiologically it doesn't make sense that somehow babies born in a natural state and treated naturally and instinctively as they should be would be somehow deficient in a necessary nutrient.  

 

Four past births here, no vitamin K just tons of boob and I did make sure to have adequate sources or supplements of vitamin K as well.

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