If you are about to have your first baby, you are already becoming aware of the many procedures and precautions that are standard for care in the U.S. throughout the process of pregnancy and birth. Though most procedures are set in place for the safety and well-being of your baby, you could be unaware of the risks involved that potentially outweigh the benefits.
In this post I will address the standard administration of the vitamin K shot, which is generally one of the first things on your birth attendants to-do list once your baby arrives. Depending on your care provider, you might receive an informative paper on the risks of vitamin K deficiency in newborns and the benefits of the vitamin K shot. I recommend that all parents thoroughly read this information as well as further research into the possible side effects and dangers of this routine shot, which I will briefly discuss below. Remember, this baby was given to YOU! You have a right to question anything recommended for your baby.
It so happens I am preparing for the birth of my third baby next month ( Yay! ), and this will be the first time I have chosen to decline the vitamin K shot for my baby.
What is the purpose of the Vitamin K shot?
The purpose of the vitamin K shot is to assist your baby’s blood clotting abilities in order to prevent the rare but devastating condition of bleeding into the brain in the weeks after delivery ( an estimated occurrence after about 1 in 10,000 births ), and as a precaution in case of newborn injury or circumcision.
Ok, so administering vitamin K sounds like a no brainer, right? Absolutely – but only at first glance. While there are clearly possible benefits to the vitamin K shot, it is very important to investigate the possible risks so that you can make an objective decision for your baby. In my own research both as a mother and as a student, I have decided that risks to my child from receiving the vitamin K shot heavily outweigh the suggested benefits.
Why do the risks outweigh the benefits?
To begin with, the vitamin K found in the shot is not real vitamin K as is found naturally in foods, but rather a synthetic vitamin K1 ( phytonadione ). There are real dangers related to use of synthetic vitamins ( further reading here: http://holisticchickblog.com/2013/06/30/515/ ), which are certainly higher for a newborn, and on the first day of life at that! In fact the standard dose mandated by most states is a whopping 100x an infants recommended daily allowance of phytonadione. It is also recognized that an infants liver doesn’t begin to function until about three to four days after birth, which leaves the infant incapable of detoxing this large dose of synthetic compound, along with the other dangerous ingredients in the shot ( derivative from coal tar and antifreeze, to name two ).
Probably the most notable danger of the shot is the link between high doses of synthetic vitamin K and childhood cancers and leukemia. Source: http://www.whale.to/y/vitk.html
In fact it has been estimated that the chances of a child developing leukemia from the vitamin K shot are 1 in 500.
1 in 500!?! Comparatively the risk of bleeding on the brain is far lower than that of developing leukemia.
Here are some other considerations to take note of:
· Animal studies have linked large doses of vitamin K to a variety of
conditions that include anaemia, liver damage, kidney damage and
· Interestingly the common problem that occurs these days of jaundice
in newborns has only been reported since the introduction of Vitamin
· According to the product insert, adverse reactions include
haemolysis (or hemolysis – American spelling) (meaning breakdown of
red blood cells), haemolytic anaemia (a disorder characterised by
chronic premature destruction of red blood cells), hyperbilirubinemia
(too much bilirubin in blood) and jaundice (yellow skin and eyes
resulting from hyperbilirubinemia), and allergic reactions include
face flushing, gastrointestinal upset, rash, redness, pain or
swelling at injection site and itching skin. It also warns that large
enough doses can cause brain damage in infants and/or impairment to
liver function. Hypoxia has also been published as having occurred in
infants after Vitamin K administration.—–
Copied from http://www.whale.to/vaccine/vitamin_k_shot.html
So what can I do?
The need for the vitamin K shot has arisen since mothers have stopped eating diets rich in vitamin K. What doctors and obstetricians are not taught in medical school and therefore do not acknowledge is that as with all fat soluble vitamins, vitamin K is able to cross the placenta to the baby just fine. By eating plenty of vitamin K containing foods you can ensure that your newborn has enough of the nutrient to facilitate proper blood clotting abilities at birth.
Leafy greens, such as kale, collard greens, arugula, spinach, turnip greens and lettuce, as well as asparagus and broccoli, are all good sources of vitamin K1 ( phylloquinone ). Remember that in order for the body to absorb vitamin K it must be consumed with fat, so pair these foods with a quality oil dressing and or avocado. *Nettle tea is an excellent beverage to consume during the 3rd trimester as a plant source of exceptionally available vitamin K, however I would not recommend drinking more than one or two cups per day. Let your doctor or midwife know when you begin to take nettle tea.
Vitamin K2 ( menaquinone ) naturally occurs in animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. While K2 has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and calcification of the arteries where K1 has not, it is worth noting that at most times during an adults life we need much less vitamin K2 than we do of K1. This is probably because K2 ( animal source ) tends to linger in the body tissues much longer than K1 ( plant source ).
Pregnancy, however, demands a completely different dietary routine, as we all know. Higher levels of vitamin K2 are required not just for the health of your baby, but to protect you from hemorrhaging after birth by ensuring your blood vessels to close to the appropriate amount. The last three weeks in particular is a great time to consume lots of organic pasture butter, which is quite high in vitamin K2 and will not hinder digestion as large quantities of meat would. This is an old tip that midwives supposedly shared with women long ago in the weeks leading up to their births.
Remember, don’t take my word for it! Do plenty of research before allowing any form of medication to be administered to you or your newborn. Questioning everything doesn’t make you a bad parent, it makes you an informed parent! Be a pain in your pediatricians butt for your child’s sake!
Note: Individuals taking blood thinners should take caution when eating/introducing foods containing vitamin K2. Always consult a healthcare professional prior to altering your diet or increasing or changing supplementation, especially when taking any sort of prescription medication.
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