Bayo Ajibola


Vitamin K is a very important vitamin because of the role it plays in the body. It is very essential in helping our blood to clot. Unfortunately, it is only stored in the body for short periods and this can lead to its deficiency.

When a baby is born, he or she is born with low stores of vitamin K.  These stores get used up quickly in the first few days of the baby’s life.  Where a baby completely lacks the vitamin, he or she is susceptible tosevere bleeding (haemorrhage). This may also lead to a condition known as Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB). Though VKDB is rare, it can be fatal and life-threatening.

The symptoms of VKDB are: nosebleed, bleeding from the mouth, bleeding from the umbilical cord and unexpected bruises.  Babies who are more vulnerable to this condition include: those born prematurely, those delivered by forceps, ventous or caesarean section, those whose mothers have taken specific medicines during pregnancy, especially medicines for epilepsy or tuberculosis, those who had difficulty with breathing at birth, those who had liver problem or were really ill at birth.

VKDB usually occurs in the first week of a baby’s life. This is known as Classic VKDB.  However, it can also occur within the first twenty-four hours. This is known as Early VKDB.  It can also occur within two weeks to twelve weeks and beyond. This is categorised as Late VKDB.

It is interestingto know that there have been some issues of controversy surrounding the use of vitamin K. One of such issues is that the vitamin K injection could lead to the development of childhood cancers. Researches have proven this to be very unlikely. Nevertheless, if you are concerned, you can ask your doctor for more information on this.

The other issue is that breastfed babies are more prone to VKDB than bottle-fed babies because formula milks have vitamin K supplements at higher levels than those naturally present in breast milk.  This, therefore, leaves most women wondering if bottle-feeding is not a better option for babies, as oppose to what doctors and health officials advice.

It is pertinent to state here that the significance of breast feeding over bottle feeding cannot be overemphasized, neither can it be undermined.  Moreover, colostrum contains a good level of vitamin K.More importantly, doctors recommend that vitamin K be given to all babies as soon as possible after they are born, whether they are breast-fed or bottle-fed.

Vitamin K can be given in form of an injection or as oral drops.  Doctors also advise that a dose of vitamin K by injection is more absorbable by the body, more effective and efficient. Just one injection protects a baby from VKDB.  Vitamin k drops, on the other hand, are usually given in three doses. Two doses are given within the first week of birth and the third dose when the baby is one month old. The choice is yours.


Bayo Ajibola

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