The newborn Vitamin K shot
After all the anti-vaccine noises in especially the last two years, are now even the vitamin K shots for newborns questioned again. The only correlation is that both are given intramuscular and via a needle.
Newborns can be very susceptible to a potential life-threatening condition called vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) or Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn. This can be a problem for all newborns and in the age range from birth to approximately six months of age. Without vitamin K, an essential factor in blood clotting, administered at birth the mortality rate is as high as 20%.
Humans cannot produce vitamin K, it is obtained from vegetables and the activity of bacteria in your gut. Newborns cannot be given vegetables and hence, may be in short supply. Furthermore, the bacteria needed to produce vitamin K, E. coli, are not yet present in newborns, who have a quite different composition of gut bacteria due to a hugely different diet of milk. Vitamin K also does not pass into breast milk at high enough levels to treat neonatal deficiencies. In other words, the first shot of vitamin K can really be the main source of vitamin K in the first months of life.
There are some known risk factors.
1) If Vitamin K is not preventatively given via an intramuscular injection at birth
2) Especially for exclusively breastfed babies. Although breastfeeding is beneficial and highly recommended, it contains less vitamin K than formula milk.
3) Babies from mothers that are on medication that reduce blood clotting or take anticonvulsants (against seizures).
The supplied vitamin K is made by bacterial fermentation, the same way it is generated in our own intestine. All proteins, or enzymes, which need it, recognize the same vitamin K. Vitamin K2, the synthetic form, also occurs naturally. Unlike K1, it is fat-soluble and hence the baby's body can store it and use this deposit for the following months. In other words, there is no difference between the “natural” molecule and the so-called "synthetic" molecule. Anyone making such claims is misinformed. Such claims can be huge red flags of dishonesty.
There are warnings on all medications. For Vitamin K, a black box warning refers to things such as the small risk associated with a large dose of it given intravenously to very rapidly reverse coagulopathy. This does not apply and is not of relevance for the much smaller dose of intramuscular vitamin K provided to newborns. The route of administration matters a lot too!
The formulation of the vitamin K shot does, of course, have some other ingredients. Uptake of vitamin K and its storage need some help. Two main ingredients are Polysorbate 80 and Propylene glycol.
Although Polysorbate 80 can affect the blood-brain barrier, it takes a HUGE IV dose delivered to the blood vessels in the head. There is no reported effect on the brain or neurotoxic effects https://medisca.com/NDC_SPECS/MUS/0526/MSDS/0526.pdf
Propylene glycol also has no mention of neurotoxicity, and claims otherwise are again huge red flags of alternative agendas and dishonesty, http://ciscochem.com/assets/propylene-glycol,-industrial-sds.pdf
For more information, I refer to these three resources:
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Professor Marc Veldhoen is an immunology expert and leads the MVeldhoen lab at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) in Lisbon, Portugal.
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