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What you need to know about vitamin K injection

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin needed for blood clotting. We cannot make Vitamin K ourselves, and we don't store it very well in our bodies. We get Vitamin K1 (also known as phylloquinone) from leafy green vegetables. We can also get Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) from bacteria that live in our intestinal tracts.

Vitamin K1 from plants makes up about 90% of our overall Vitamin K levels, while Vitamin K2 from bacteria makes up only about 10% of our overall Vitamin K intake. Vitamin K is necessary for our bodies to activate certain molecules (also known as clotting factors) that help the blood to clot. The blood clotting factors are there in normal numbers at birth, but not activated fully due to low levels of Vitamin K. If we do not have enough Vitamin K, then we cannot activate these molecules. So a Vitamin K deficiency makes our blood less able to clot.

A baby who does not have enough Vitamin K can start to bleed suddenly, without warning. This is known as Vitamin K deficiency bleeding.

Vitamin K deficiency bleeding can be idiopathic or secondary.

  • Idiopathic VKDB means that the cause is unknown. Virtually all cases of idiopathic VKDB happen in babies who are exclusively breastfed.

  • Secondary VKDB means that the baby has an underlying disorder such as gallbladder disease, cystic fibrosis, or medication side effects. Most babies who have secondary VKDB are also exclusively breastfed.

Vitamin K deficiency bleeding can follow one of three patterns: early, classical, and late.

  • Early VKDB happens in the first 24 hours of life. Early VKDB is usually seen in babies born to mothers who took medicines that interfere with Vitamin K. These medicines may include warfarin (Coumadin), seizure medications, and tuberculosis medications. The bleeding usually happens in the skin, brain, and abdomen (Shearer 2009).

  • Classical VKDB happens in days 2-7 of life, usually during days 2-3. This is when levels of Vitamin K are lowest. Common bleeding sites include the gastrointestinal system, umbilical cord site, skin, nose, and circumcision site. The official cause of classical VKDB is listed as "unknown," but breastfeeding and poor feeding (<100 mL milk/day or <3.4 ounces milk/day) are major risk factors (Shearer 2009).

  • Late VKDB happens after the first week of life, usually during weeks 3-8, but can occur anytime in the first 6 months. The bleeding usually happens in the brain, skin, and gastrointestinal tract. Bleeding in the brain is often the first sign of late VKDB. Late VKDB happens in exclusively breastfed infants who did not receive a Vitamin K shot. Some infants may also be at higher risk if they have undetected gallbladder disease, cystic fibrosis, chronic diarrhea, and antibiotic use (Shearer 2009).

When infants do not receive any Vitamin K at birth, statistics from Europe show that 4.4 to 7.2 infants out of 100,000 will develop late VKDB.

When infants receive 1-3 mg of oral Vitamin K once at birth, anywhere from 1.4 to 6.4 infants out of 100,000 will develop late VKDB.

When infants receive 1 mg of oral Vitamin K at least three times during infancy (typically at birth, one week, and four weeks), about 2.6 infants out of 100,000 will develop late VKDB.

When infants receive 2 mg of oral Vitamin K at least three times during infancy (at birth, 4 to 6 days, and 4 to 6 weeks) or 2 mg of oral Vitamin K after birth and 1 mg of oral Vitamin K every week for three months, statistics from Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark show that somewhere between 0 to 0.9 infants out of 100,000 will develop late VKDB.

When infants receive the Vitamin K shot at birth, anywhere from 0 to 0.4 infants per 100,000 get late VKDB. The shot doesn't prevent every case of late VKDB, but most countries report incidence rates of zero or close to zero. For example, between 2006-2008 in England, there were four cases of late VKDB out of 1.7 million births (0.24 per 100,000).


Aluminum adjuvants in vaccines and the newborn vitamin K shot are also significant sources of early exposure. The package insert for Pfizer's vitamin K formulation warns that the product "contains aluminum that may be toxic," and it also notes that "premature neonates are particularly at risk," yet it is standard practice to administer vitamin K shots to preterm infants. Young children go on to receive multiple aluminum-containing vaccines in their first three years and more as adolescents. A two-month-old infant may receive up to 1,225 micrograms of aluminum from the vaccines administered at a single well-baby visit and a cumulative 4,925 micrograms by 18 months of age. Regulators have never properly assessed these astronomical levels of aluminum for safety. Co-exposure to aluminum and mercury (still present in influenza vaccines) makes matters synergistically worse.

Infants in their first year of life are particularly susceptible to aluminum bioaccumulation, raising concerns about the high levels of absorbable aluminum reported in infant formula and in the parenteral (intravenous) nutrition solutions given to premature babies. Suggesting that these reports represent the "tip of an iceberg," one group of researchers cautions that not only does aluminum constitute a "significant component of newborns' exposure to xenobiotics and contaminants," but the consequences of aluminum overload in the perinatal period can have pathological consequences that persist into adulthood.

Vitamin K Vaccine WARNING


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See above for dosing information or speak with your midwife or doctor



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