20 responses to “Vitamin K”

  1. Anonymous

    yes I believe this one is a great lark for the drug companies – there are so many unresolved issues in the Vit k debate – it s just not funny.
    I agree with your comment – low levels – compared to what? Adults? Formula? All of course completely irrelevant.
    I think we always have to step back and ask ourselves – would nature be so wrong? Hmm – probably not – its more likely we just lack understanding of the full physiological process. Babies said to have low levels of vit k – (as you say compared to ?what?) did not have physiological third stage – so we can at best only make this claim for abbies born in hosp who had actively intereferred with third stage.
    Oh i could go on….

  2. Anonymous

    I agree with the above post…that was what I was thinking as I was reading.

    You know also, I think it stems largely from the routine circumcision stance of most modern hospitals as well. (although I know that varies per culture), still it is a huge reason as to the “WHY” doctors are giving it. Actually I would have probably been able to get away with out it, had I told the hospital we were not going to circumcise. We did decide to circumcise although we did wait 8 days to do it (and had planned on doing it that way, and why we didn’t want the VK) But were pressured as usual with being in the hospital. But I did get a natural birth that I wanted and everything went well. I will definitely change things next time and this REALLY makes me want to be sure to delay any clamping or cutting of the cord for as long as possible for SURE the next time around.

  3. Pagan Rach

    Wow, I hadn’t heard about that link before. Glad Zara didn’t have the shot :)

  4. Anonymous

    I am a tad confused by this last comment, as hospitals do not routinely circumcise anymore! It can be quite a difficult procedure to get done within the public hosp system these days, unless there is a very good reason for it ie medical condition.

  5. Mahla

    Hey Lisa & other blog readers,
    I read an interesting case study recently, which illustrated the following for me, and I though I'd share…
    When women have had extended periods of time on antibiotics, the bacterial flora of the gut-which produce our supply of vitamin K- are eradicated and she will be deficient. In this case, she is not able to pass any on (cos she has none herself) to the bub, and it might be an idea to consider the drug then, esspecially if the second stage of labor has been long or in some way traumatic (physically, that is). Once the baby has it's own supply of good intestinal bacteria, it will begin producing it's own, but until then, its dependant on the mothers supposedly vit K deficient breastmilk. Curious to know if vitamin k enriched artificial formula is also linked to leukemia???

  6. Anonymous

    Hi Lisa,

    Just wondering if you have a reference for the Vit K study with an increased risk of leukaemia? Be very interested to read..

    I also wonder why it is compulsory in the hospitals!!


  7. Lisa Barrett

    HI, I’ll find the reference for you. It isn’t actually compulsory at any hospital, they just often forget to tell you it’s a choice.

  8. Rochelle

    The reference is Golding et al Childhood cancer, intramuscular vitamin K, and pethidine given during labour. BMJ 1992;305:341-346 (8 August), doi:10.1136/bmj.305.6849.341 which you can find at http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/305/6849/341

    http://www.wddty.com/vitamin-k-and-cancer.html is also an interesting read on the topic.

    Some hospitals now get you to sign a consent pre birth for it & others don't let you know it is optional & just inform new parents that it gets given shortly after birth.

  9. Rochelle

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

    Von Kries R, Göbel U, Hachmeister A. et al. Vitamin K and childhood cancer: a population based case-control study in Lower Saxony, Germany. BMJ 1996;313(7051):199-203 – "Found a risk of leukaemia, but only when cases were compared with local controls (i.e. from the same hospital) and not with controls randomly selected from the whole area under study. This, although suggestive, was not followed up but dismissed as a chance finding related to multiple testing."

    Parker L, Cole M, Craft A, Hey E. Neonatal vitamin K administration and childhood cancer in the north of England: retrospective case-control study. BMJ 1998;316:189-93. – "showed a twofold risk of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia among 1-6 year olds"

    & Passmore S, Draper G, Brownbill P, Kroll M. Case-control studies of relation between childhood cancer and neonatal vitamin K administration: retrospective case-control study. BMJ 1998;316:178-84. – "showed a significant risk for all cancers"

    Though I have not yet read those studies' reports for myself!

  10. Anonymous

    I was asked with the birth of my first child if I wanted her to have vit K injection.
    I refused, as I wanted a natural birth & no interference & instead I got lectured on how I was putting my child at risk. They continued to hassel me with the vit K issue for quite a few months.
    As soon as I found out about a free midwife programme in Adelaide, I changed from the hospital to a midwife.
    The birth went very well & I was never asked about the vit k injection. My daughter is ver healthy. shows how alot of the so called medical requirements can turn out to be nonsense.

  11. A

    I have had both of my children at home and it wasn't until my daughter announced that she was having my grandson in the hospital that I began my reasearch into routine practices and other interventions that are commonplace. I found the original packaging for the Vitamin K. On the back of the packaging is states: May cause newborn fatality. I have to mention that in addition to this, as if it weren't enough, this Vitamin K that they give either orally or IM, is synthetic. If you know about synthetics, than you know how harmful it can be since it is not directly from nature but created in a laboratory. This can also be said for supplements found in health food stores. I believe that if a pregnant women is in good health and is taking the right supplements i.e..organic, whole food, (not in plasic containers which are made from petroleum found to be cargenogic) and is instructed as to how to truly eat healthfully, than her body and the baby will be supported in just the right way. Balanced and lacking nothing.

  12. Melandrew

    I was very interested to read this blog, as I always like to know the evidence, and be able to make my own risk/benefit analysis before accepting any recommendation (hopeless over-researcher!) I hadn't heard about the link between Vit K and leukaemia, which is quite alarming.

    On reviewing the literature, though, it seems there have been several studies, metaanalyses and reviews subsequent to the 1992 Golding study that you cited that do not support this link.

    The AAP have summarised much of this in their recommendations: http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;112/1/191

    On balance I'll chose to have the vit K injection for little Wiggly when he/she is born.

    Btw great blog, and fantastic to find such a great champion for homebirth. Keep up the great work.

  13. Lisa Barrett

    Thank you, I totally agree that the best decisions are made when fully informed. I'm glad you read it for yourself and came to your own conclusion.

    I agree that the initial research was very flawed it doesn't mean the link is not there however.

    That is why a wide variety of reading is necessary and my opinion or that of the medical model means nothing if you don't actually know the facts for yourself.

    Thanks again. great comment

  14. Anonymous

    interesting. I read somewhere just the other day that 1 in 2 adults in australia will get cancer in their lifetime.
    makes me wonder about the contribution to the wellbeing (or ill-health) of whole populations when things like Vit K and unnecessary antibiotics are given so incessantly…

  15. Sherry

    You said,

    "This brings us to the action of the third stage in all of this. If the placenta isn't detached from the baby until after it has birthed then there is an equalisation of the blood passing to and from the placenta: this creates just the right amount of transfer of all the cells required. There is a higher haematocrit which essentially makes the blood thicker and stickier. Isn't this the natural way to prevent bleeding in the newborn until vit K can be made by the gut flora and what is in breast milk can be absorbed by the baby. This is a good reason not to interfere with the third stage. Even cutting the cord when it doesn't seem to be pulsing isn't a guarantee that the natural process has taken place, and I believe that the potential for complications due to that can cause bleeding issues for the mother if cut before placenta is out."

    I think this is a clue to the most important consideration here.

    As well, would it not be possible that we are also "creating" this deficiency of adequate Vit.K by cutting the cord too soon, not only for "thicker and stickier blood", but how much Vit. K is stored in that 1/3 or more missing blood supply?

    Synthetic Vit.K whether injected or given orally is essentially like a "drug" and treats a symptom of mismanaged birth. Root cause is not being addressed-that of interrupting normal physiology.

  16. Sherry

    It is now culturally acceptable in most places to use synthetic vitamins, but we are really taking part in a huge experiment with our bodies and with our babies. Vit and minerals work synergisticaly and are provided in nature with many co-nutrients, many of which haven't even been discovered.

    How does the mother's Vit.K status affect the newborn's status at birth? Is baby's Vit. K status limited, because mother has less than optimal levels herself?

    Does the average pregnant woman really eat a lot of greens, just because she is told they are good for her?

    As well, many of us have imbalanced and inadequate beneficial intestinal micro flora… we can make our own Vit.K, but are we doing this optimally when we have more "bad" bacteria in our guts, than good bacteria? We pass on either our balanced or imbalanced microflora to baby….does this impact the speed at which baby starts producing adequate Vit.K

    So my long drawn out point is, why not attend to our digestive health and microflora, learn how to add greens to our diet in way that tastes good and drink an infusion of Alfalfa during the last month of our pregnancies along with choosing a place of birth and care provider who we can trust to leave our baby's cord intact at least for the first hour after birth.

    In my mind at least, this is a logical, preventative and proactive approach.

    As well, according to the research that I have been doing in regards to delayed cord cutting, it seems possible that immediate cord cutting itself may contribute the to heamorrhage that Vit.k is supposed to protect our baby's from. So instead of worrying about using Vit.K or not, we should be looking at other contributing factors as to why a baby might bleed, such as trauma at birth as well practices such as immediate cord cutting.

    Sorry so long!! Below is a reference for more info:

    Judith Mercer:
    "Infants in the delayed cord clamping group were found to have fewer incidences of any level of intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) defined by the reports of cranial ultrasounds routinely ordered during the first 28 days in the NICU. The incidence of IVH was equally divided between the stratified groups (ICC 7/7, DCC 2/2) although the majority occurred in infants less than 30 weeks gestation. One infant in the DCC group was a protocol violation, meaning that the cord was clamped prior to 30 seconds in violation of the study protocol. In addition, infants in the DCC group were less likely to have blood culture-proven (confirmed) sepsis during the NICU stay.

  17. Linda Bench

    hi there – I made the fully informed decision not to let anyone near my home birth babies with a needle – especially for Vit K – They are so healthy – SO HEALTHY!!

  18. Annie

    I was born in the UK in 1963 with vitamin K deficiency. In those days it wasn’t seen or understood very well but my mother’s midwife had seen a case 20 years previously and knew that I needed the injection. I recovered well.

    In later life it has been discovered that I have dermatitis herpetiformis which is a disease associated with coeliac disease. My mother was over 60 when she was diagnosed as also having coeliac disease. We cannot know for sure if this is why I was born Vit K deficient but I suppose the lesson here is that you might never know if you are in a high-risk group.

    Vitamin K deficiency can be life-threatening so make yourselves aware. I’m only here today because of my mother’s experienced midwife.

  19. Annie

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear before, Lisa. Yes I was born with hemorrhagic disease and needed a vitamin K injection before I bled to death. I’m suggesting that my mum’s undiagnosed coeliac disease might have influenced the nutritional status of me, the baby, leading to the problem. I’m not really making an opinion about whether vit K should be given to all babies but that it’s something that new parents should understand and be aware of if they opt not to have it for their newborns. My mum and dad didn’t have a clue what was happening to me and I imagine it was very alarming, not to mention life-threatening.