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Information for parents-to-be.
Obstetrics and gynaecology
The Department of Health recommends that all babies are given a vitamin K supplement at birth. However the decision is entirely yours about whether your baby receives extra vitamin K and how it is given. We hope the information given in this booklet will help you make your choice.
Vitamin K is a substance that is found naturally in the body. It plays an essential role in the normal process of blood clotting.
A newborn baby does not have enough vitamin K and is at risk of bleeding from the nose, mouth or into the brain. This is called Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB).
Whilst this is a rare condition affecting 1 in 10,000 babies born at full term, bleeding which may occur in the brain, can cause brain damage or even death.
Giving vitamin K supplements in sufficient amount can eliminate that risk.
Yes, all babies may be at risk but certain babies are at a higher risk. These include:
In the early 1990s it was suggested that vitamin K injections might increase the risk of leukaemia in children, however there have been many more reports disproving this. Current well-informed scientific opinion is that there is no risk.
There are two methods of giving vitamin K to your baby.
The Department of Obstetricians and Gynaecology and Children and Young people’s services at The Rotherham NHS foundation Trust, Department of Health (DoH), National institute of clinical excellence (NICE) all recommend that all babies should receive a single dose of vitamin K at birth by an injection in their thigh.
You can choose to not give your baby the vitamin K injection at birth, or may prefer a different way of giving vitamin K to your baby. In that case, we recommend your baby is given vitamin K orally (by mouth) at birth.
If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to your Midwife or contact the Community Midwifery Office on 01709 427253.
Vitamin K - Information for parents-to-be - patient information leaflet
Produced by: N Humphrey, June 2006
Date Revised: December 2007, January 2009, January 2011, May 2013, January 2021, January 2023
Next Revision Due: January 2025. Version: 7.0
©The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust 2023. All rights reserved.