You can now text us! 205-927-2112

Vitamin K: Why It’s so Important to Your Newborn's Health

Vitamin K: Why It’s so Important to Your Newborn's Health

Grocery stores and restaurants don’t boast about the vitamins their foods contain for no reason. Vitamins are key nutrients that help facilitate many of the body’s essential functions. Vitamin D, which is obtained from sun exposure and from consuming certain foods, helps regulate your immune system and also helps reduce inflammation.

Vitamin C, famously found in oranges and other fruits and veggies, provides protection against cardiovascular disease and also spurs the growth, development, and repair of tissue. The list goes on and on, as any pharmacy supplement aisle will tell you. 

One vitamin you won’t hear much about, however, is vitamin K. Despite this, vitamin K plays a big role in your newborn’s health. A shot of the vitamin should be one of the first things on your list with your pediatrician. 

At Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics, we offer exceptional prenatal and newborn care to help you care for your new bundle of joy. In this blog, Nicolette Marak, MD, discusses the importance of vitamin K and why your newborn needs a shot of the vitamin during their first days.

Vitamin K basics

Vitamin K refers to a group of fat-soluble vitamins that help with blood clotting, blood metabolism, and in the regulation of blood calcium levels. The body uses vitamin K, in part, to create the substance that clots blood. The vitamin is found in a variety of common foods, including:

Because it’s found in so many foods, vitamin K deficiency is uncommon in adults. However, people on blood thinners, with celiacs disease, or who drink heavily may need more vitamin K. 

Vitamin K in newborns 

You may be surprised to learn that all babies are born with low levels of vitamin K. And since a newborn's diet is breast milk or formula, those levels won’t rise during the first few months after they're born.

Mothers who eat foods with high levels of vitamin K may be able to slightly elevate the level of vitamin K in their breast milk, but it won’t be high enough. Because of this, newborns need a shot of vitamin K to bolster the amount they have in their system.

Why vitamin K is important

Babies are at risk of vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB), which can cause internal bleeding in the brain or intestines. Unfortunately, undetected bleeding in these areas can lead to brain damage or even death.

Infants up to six months are at a higher risk of suffering VKDB. When the body has enough vitamin K, VKDB is very unlikely, as the blood is able to properly clot. 

The vitamin K shot

For most infants, the vitamin K shot is a one-time injection. And it’s well worth it, because babies who don’t get a vitamin K shot are 81 times more likely to develop VKDB. The disease is about 20% fatal in babies who suffer from it.

The vitamin K shot is extremely safe and has no history of side effects. In fact, the shot is largely responsible for making VKDB extremely rare in the United States. Dr. Marak knows how important vitamin K is and will make sure your baby starts life with a low risk of VKDB.

Don’t skip out on the vitamin K shot for your infant. To learn more about prenatal and infant care, book an appointment over the phone with Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

How Do I Know if My Child Has ADHD?

ADHD is common among children. And childhood is a time when its symptoms are typically strongest and when most people are diagnosed. Learn more about this condition and its common indicators.

What to Do When Your Child is Vomiting

No one wants to watch a family member go through an illness that causes vomiting, and it can be especially hard for parents to see their children sick. Here’s what to do when your child is throwing up.

Myths and Facts About Whooping Cough

Whooping cough, which is a disease that was thought to have been nearly eradicated in the United States, has made a resurgence in the last 20 years. Read on to separate the myths from the facts about this disease.

My Child is Terrified of Shots

Trypanophobia — the fear of needles — can make even the bravest adults feel a pit in their stomach. Here’s how you can help your child overcome their fear and anxiety about shots.

How to Care for Your Child’s Croupy Cough

Croup — which is a viral condition that causes swelling in the region of the vocal cords — is typically all bark and no bite. Learn how to care for your child when they come down with this common infection.