Parents have many concerns about the Vitamin K shot. These are probably the most common ones that I hear:
1. "Can the Vitamin K shot cause leukemia?" No. Researchers have studied this for 20+ years and found no link between Vitamin K and childhood cancer.
2. "I am worried about the pain an intramuscular injection will cause my infant. Why can’t you give my baby the oral version of Vitamin K?" In the US, the preferred method of giving vitamin K is a shot for several reasons: First, it is absorbed more easily than the oral version. Second, when the shot (IM) version is given, the chance of developing late Vitamin K deficiency bleeding is nearly zero. Third, the oral version has to be given in a three-dose regimen (at birth, 1 week, and 6 weeks). While it lowers the chance of bleeding, it does not eliminate it.
3. "I am worried about the toxins in the shot." Just ask for the preservative free version of Vitamin K. Any allergic reactions to the Vitamin K shot have occurred with the intravenous version which is rarely given in the newborn period except when the baby is already bleeding heavily.
4. "Why will my pediatrician not perform the circumcision until my baby receives Vitamin K?" First, most babies are circumcised within the first week of life and this is when their Vitamin K levels are the lowest. Second, circumcision sites are also a common site of bleeding for infants with Vitamin K deficiency bleeding. I have yet to meet a pediatrician that will perform a circumcision without a Vitamin K shot.
5. "If I increase my intake of leafy green vegetables, will this increase vitamin K in my breast milk? What if I take Vitamin K supplements?" The number one risk factor for Vitamin K deficiency bleeding in newborns is breastfeeding. Increasing your intake of Vitamin K will not provide enough Vitamin K to your baby via breastfeeding to prevent Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding.
So, unless your baby is born with a full set of teeth to chomp some spinach (and if so, so sorry for mom!), then he or she would definitely benefit from Vitamin K supplementation. Regardless of your decision, be sure to discuss Vitamin K administration with your pediatrician so they can be aware of your preference.