Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vitamin K and Eye Drops for the Newborn

“What about the eye drops at birth? And the vit k shot? I'm having a baby and want know what's good (if any) and what's not.”

Eye drops are antibiotics routinely given to all infants to prevent blindness from exposure to gonorrhea or chlamydia. Tests can have false positives and symptoms are not always obvious, especially with chlamydia.

If you are absolutely confident in your STD status, they are unnecessary. In a hospital, you might have to sign a waiver taking liability for refusing them.

If you do choose eye drops, you can choose which kind of antibiotics to use (some are associated with different side effects) and most importantly, you can demand that they are delayed. Delaying them for at least one hour means the critical "hour of bonding" when the baby is alert and needs to find the breast, is not interrupted. This can increase your chance of having a successful breastfeeding bond.

Here is an alternative argument about eye drops.

More on the breast crawl here.

Vitamin K is routinely given parenterally (meaning, injected) because in very rare cases babies have a congenital disorder, exposure to drugs or long-standing vitamin deficiency that causes hemorrhage in the brain. (Newborn hemorrhagic disease). Sky-high levels of vitamin K can help those babies.

If you don't want the vitamin K shot, most states allow you to simply refuse it. 
 You can find exemption laws and forms here.

When the intervention makes medical sense:

  • You are on blood thinners during pregnancy
  • You are on anti-seizure drugs during pregnancy
  • Your baby is injured at birth
  • Your baby is circumcised or experiences another procedure at birth
  • Your baby has a liver condition or other congenital condition that increases the risk of this disease

Signs of potential hemorrhagic disease:
  • Unusual or excessive bruising
  • Unusual or excessive bleeding, such as bleeding through injection sites, at the belly button or out of the ears and eyes
  • Bloody urine
  • Swelling or lumps on the skull
  • High pitched screaming related to brain inflammation 
(Read why your baby shouldn't be circumcised.)

If you do choose vitamin K intervention, you can opt for the oral (mouth) version, which does not contain heavy metals or preservatives. You must give the first dose at birth and then follow up with additional doses to complete the series. This followup is why hospitals prefer the shot, as when the oral version is used, parents might forget to give the later doses, leading to more cases of newborn hemorrhagic disease. Also, if you baby has a liver condition, the oral version is less effective.

If requesting an oral dose, it is important to research this topic, be confident in your decision and bring your own bottle of it with you, as many doctors are taught to simply squeeze the needle’s contents into the baby’s mouth.

Some studies have linked vitamin K to leukemia while other studies have not. The cancer premise is based on the physiology of vitamin K in the neonatal period. The placenta and umbilical cord tightly control the vitamin K levels transmitted to the baby. That means if you take more vitamin K while pregnant, it will not pass to the baby. Doctors have decided this complex mechanism is a defect in all humans. But some argue that the slow vit K accumulation and gut seeding protect against cancer.

Here is the drug page for Vitamin K

Here is alternative information on the shot.

Perhaps what really needs to be emphasized is that no matter what interventions are necessary for your baby, they should be administered at the right time so as not to interfere with bonding, and they should be performed gently and respectfully. This is something you and your baby absolutely have the right to demand and you as the mother have the responsibility to ensure. Remember: entering the hospital should not mean leaving your dignity at the door!

Melissa was chilled to learn about the vitamin K shot long after her daughter's birth . She was not informed, nor given other options or even a chance to delay it. 

1 comment:

  1. I didn't even know they gave Vitamin K shots at birth until my 4th child. I have since learned that it could be linked to their very high Jaundice levels. Anything given to or put in an infant should be done so with informed consent. But they're not.