Vitamin K and your new baby

Vitamin K occurs naturally in food, especially in some vegetables. We all need vitamin K to help make our blood clot, preventing bleeding. When babies are born they have very little vitamin K, and very rarely, a small number of babies may start to bleed because of this.

Vitamin K supplements

Vitamin K supplements are offered straight after birth so it’s important to think about it beforehand. Your midwife or hospital doctor will be able to give you information about it but it’s up to you whether to go ahead with it. Health experts recommend that all new babies receive vitamin K shortly after they are born to remove the small risk that they will start bleeding.

There are two methods of giving vitamin K: by injection, which is done in one dose; or by mouth, which means the baby will need several doses. If it’s given by mouth, it is recommended that all babies get two doses within the first week. For babies who are exclusively breastfed, a third dose will be given at one month. Babies who have formula milk won’t need the third dose, because formula milk already contains vitamin K.

It is important that all the doses are given to make sure the baby is protected. Remember, however, that breastfeeding your baby is the best choice for all-round health.

Bleeding or bruising at any time in the first six months must be looked at urgently as it can be a sign of vitamin K deficiency bleeding. Babies need to be seen by their GP or health visitor if their stools are pale and their urine is dark.

Last Updated: 30 July 2013
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