The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report last month about four babies in Nashville, Tenn., who hemorrhaged after their parents refused vitamin K injections at birth. The babies were diagnosed with life-threatening vitamin K deficiency bleeding between February and September. Three had bleeding in the brain, and one had gastrointestinal bleeding. They survived, but the infants with brain hemorrhages could have long-term neurological problems.
“Not giving vitamin K at birth is an emerging trend that can have devastating outcomes for infants and their families,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden stated in the report. “Ensuring that every newborn receives a vitamin K injection at birth is critical to protect infants.”
The vitamin is necessary for normal blood clotting, but because vitamin K does not transfer well across the placenta, most babies are born with low levels. The deficiency can lead to a rare, sudden bleeding disorder up to 6 months of age.