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What it is Vitamin K?

Written by Rachel Curran Midwife and Founder of BitBaby

Vitamin K is a clotting factor that is essential to help prevent bleeding. Small amounts of vitamin K is passed through to baby via the placenta. However, Newborn babies are born with insufficient levels of a clotting factor called Vitamin K.

Why Vitamin K is recommended

A deficiency in vitamin K is the main cause of Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB), or hemorrhagic disease in newborn babies. VKDB or Hemorrhagic disease in newborns is a bleeding problem that can occur in a baby during the first few days of life. Vitamin K supplement is advised to be given in order to prevent any small bleeds that may occur in their brain which may potentially cause larger problems.

How is Vitamin K administered?

The World Health Authority Recommendation ( 17 February 2018 ) is that ‘All newborns should be given 1 mg of vitamin K intramuscularly (via injection) after birth (i.e. after the first hour by which the infant should be in skin-to-skin contact with the mother and breastfeeding should be initiated). Vitamin K can also be administered in oral doses if preferred.

If you are bottle feeding your baby an initial 2mg dose will be given at birth then repeated at 7 days old. Artificial formula contains Vitamin K.

If you are breastfeeding three doses are necessary: the first dose soon after birth a second dose when your baby is around seven days old (given by your midwife), and a third dose when your baby is about six weeks old (given by your health visitor or GP).