In the minority :)Some things to consider (both sides of the argument about Vitamin K ):
Actually, the disease that Vitamin K prevents is not restricted to procedural issues, like circumcision or head trauma during birth. The disease that Vitamin K prevents is very deadly, yet rare. It used to be called "classic
hemorrhagic disease of the newborn," because it was so common, and countless newborns died from it.
Nowadays many newborns do not need the shot, but honestly, a few do and there's no way to know ahead of time which ones are potential victims, in order to prevent a deadly condition of bleeding on the brain. Yes, procedures could increase the chances, but to claim that a baby who is born vaginally without trauma, and uncircumcised is not at risk is misleading, unfortunately.
And the real issue as I understand it, is that condition is totally undetectable until the bleeding has already started, and by then it's too late.
And it happens more often in breastfed babies (because formula's loaded up with Vitamin K). But Vitamin K can prevent
it from happening to begin with.
So what about side effects? The main concern is the potential link between the shot and childhood cancers (primarily leukemia). But is the risk of childhood cancer worse than the risk of infant death? That's obviously a personal decision. Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin, so the concern is not in giving a newborn a vitamin. It's the level/quantity of that vitamin, and this is something you can speak to your pediatrician about in terms of getting a smaller dosage, etc., and the manner in which it's administered (intramuscular versus intravenous) also plays a role in terms of risk.
In recent years, several studies have came out showing a potential link between the Vitamin K shot (because of the levels, as I understand it -- not just the vitamin itself) and childhood cancers, and that the risks were according to some studies, higher that a baby would develop cancer (which may or may not be deadly, but is certainly scary) than die from bleeding on the brain. But other equally reputable studies came out showing no relationship at all.
So overall the studies linking Vitamin K shots to childhood cancers are not, in our reading, conclusive at all. Some are very contradictory.
: Some are very convincing. But pretty much all were very scary, absolutely. In the end, when it came to making this decision for our firstborn, there just seemed to be too many other factors that could be playing a part for us to accept a definite cause/effect between the shot and leukemia. Though I can still understand even the potential connection causing concern, absolutely. And that being enough for some parents to opt not to get the shot.
The main conclusion we came to was that it seemed as if the majority of children who'd had the shot and developed leukemia were carriers of a specific gene that meant they were at greater risk for leukemia. Now could the Vitamin K shot have been some kind of catalyst? I have no idea. Possibly. But I think the argument could be (and has been) made that there are other potential triggers/contributors as well, just as the argument has been made that the Vitamin K shot can be a catalyst.
It's confusing, for sure. And deserves a lot of thought, I think. And as I said, both sides make compelling arguments. So it's not an easy decision to make. But it's not one that deserves automatic dismissal. I urge anyone to research it for yourself and come to your own conclusion, if you haven't already.
We are very proactive about our child's health -- she eats organic, was breastfed past age two, and isn't exposed to flame retardant chems, pesticides, etc. We aren't comfortable with the additives in any available vaccines for her at this age still, so she remains unvaccinated, but we compensate by ensuring healthy habits, including extended BFing, etc. I don't do the flu shot (esp. while pregnant). And so on.
But for us, we ended up feeling the Vitamin K shot did more potential good in preventing a deadly and untreatable disease, than potential harm. And the clincher for us was that we had to cut the cord immediately -- it was wrapped around her neck twice, tightly, and had to be cut in order for her to be born. This was the deciding factor for us in allowing the smaller dose shot of Vitamin K.
It's a tough call, though, I know, and I respect both sides of the argument. And will be researching the issue again as it comes closer to time for this babe to be born, to see about more recent studies.
Bottom line: the more research you can do, the better.
My suggestion to anyone who's uncomfortable with the high levels of Vitamin K in the shot is to look to an oral version instead, especially if you're planning to breastfeed. That way the baby is still getting some benefit of additional Vitamin K, but without the single megadose amount that has been linked with health issues. And consider letting the cord stop pulsing before cutting it. Some studies indicate delaying the cord clamping can help.
But taking Vitamin K yourself while pregnant is not
effective. It does not pass through placenta in levels that can prevent hemorrhagic disease of the newborn. It does pass through breastmilk, but the levels there are arguable, given that most women's milk doesn't come in for several days post-partum (and how much quantity of Vitamin K carries through colostrum), versus how quickly the newborn needs to be exposed to the vitamin for it to be most effective. Again, there's a lot to consider.
Had we not gotten the shot, we'd have gone with the oral administration instead. It's my understanding the oral is not as effective as the shot unless it's specifically prepared (so be sure to research your source there), however it is far more effective than nothing at all, especially for a breastfed babe, and can be just as effective in some cases. So if you're uncomfortable with the shot, but concerned about the potential risks of the bleeding issues, then the oral might be a good solution for you.
We declined the Hep B (not at risk) and the prophylactic eye ointment because I tested negative for the two STDs it treats -- and eye treatment can be made retroactively and be just as effective.