CDC Warns Against Declining Vitamin K Shot at Birth

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- New parents prepare for months to bring their baby home; painting the nursery, assembling the crib and putting together everything the baby will need to be safe and well. But now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that some parents are refusing what has been a staple of post baby care for more than 50 years. 

And they aren't talking about vaccines this time. Rather a vitamin k supplement shot that helps with blood clotting. 

Now parents who refused the shot and whose children went on to have seizures, strokes and severe hemorrhaging have joined the CDC in a campaign to tell new parents what vitamin k is all about.

Since giving birth to twin boys earlier this week, Amy Claycomb and her husband have relied a lot on information from Cash and Canyon's doctor Neonatologist Dr. Amy Yen. 

"I had two premature baby boys on Sunday. They were born at 31 weeks," says Claycomb.  "They make sure my husband and I get the adequate amount of time of skin to skin contact to help with that developmental progression." 

Claycomb also did her own research about the care her sons would receive after birth. 

"Anything that I could look into for my pregnancy to help out, so I kind of read up on the vitamin k," says Claycomb. 

Vitamin k is an anti-clotting vitamin that's been given to babies for more than 50 years, according to Dr. Yen. Everyone has it in their bodies, but babies are usually born with a deficiency. 

"It's not a vaccine, it's a supplement," says Yen. "It's giving them vitamin k that they don't have, they will later have it. But, until they have it themselves it's going to put them at risk for significant bleeding." 

Yen says while nationally some patients may have decline with their babies later experience hemorrhaging she has not had patients decline here. 

"Fortunately, here in Springfield, I have not had a parent decline vitamin k after education," says Yen. 

The doctor says parents are informed at the time what the child is being given. 

"If parents are interested abstaining from Vitamin K we have a handout that we give the families and typically, with reeducation they are willing to take the vitamin k injection," says Yen.

Yen believes the CDC campaign may help with vital reeducation for people who are getting misinformation.

"I think parents giving their stories about what happened when they refused vitamin k is powerful to say this is what happened to them, please don't let that happen to your child," says Yen. 

Claycomb says parents have an oblgation to their children to make sure they get vitamin k. 

"They have no control over their future, their lives that's kind of what your roll is as the parent to make sure they have everything they needs so they can grow properly," says Claycomb.

Mothers who refused the supplement cited something they read on the internet or a friend as a reason they refused the supplement. 

A CDC study has determined that mothers are more likely to decline the vitamin k shot in a birthing center than they would in a hospital. That is even though the shot is often recommended by midwives. 

Some facilities, like Mercy, offer an oral rather than an injection version of the supplement.  Yen says if new parents have questions or concerns they should always talk to their doctors. 

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