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Wirral University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Why does my baby need Vitamin K?

The Department of Health recommends that all babies receive Vitamin K to prevent Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB) or Haemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn (HDN). This is a rare but serious disease which can affect 1 in 10,000 babies if they are not given Vitamin K. Vitamin K is found in low amounts in some babies and is essential for helping blood to clot (stop bleeding). 

Half of all babies who do bleed will do so into their brain (intracranial bleeding) and this can cause damage to the brain and sometimes can result in the death of the baby. 

Some babies are more at risk than others but this sometimes does not show itself until the damage is done, which is why it is advisable for all babies to receive Vitamin K. 

By 6 months old, a baby can manufacture enough Vitamin K to not require any further treatment. 

Babies brought to the Neonatal Unit from labour ward will be given Vitamin K with mum’s consent into the muscle of the leg or directly into the bloodstream if the baby has a line in its blood vessels (intravenous cannula). If coming from the Post Natal Ward the Neonatal nurse will check that the baby has received Vitamin K already. 

Signs of bleeding around the umbilical cord, blood in stools and urine are observed for in all babies. Prolonged yellow skin (jaundice) is always investigated as this can occasionally be due to HDN. 

If you have any questions, please ask the nurse, midwife or doctor caring for your baby. 

Further information is available at Search for Vitamin K.