Dealing with Vitamin K Deficiency in Newborns

During pregnancy, it is important for you to closely watch your health, as your baby’s growth in the womb is dependent on you. This is also true once your child is born. Some babies, upon birth, are deficient in certain nutrients that contribute to their overall health. It is your job as their mother to help them prevent these deficiencies.

For instance, some babies are found to have low levels of vitamin K upon birth. Insufficient levels of this vitamin can make newborn babies susceptible to bleeding disorders during their first few weeks. The incidence of these disorders can also increase due to the following reasons:

• Preterm delivery, forceps or vacuum delivery, C-section delivery

• Prolonged labor or extremely fast labor

• Low birth weight

• An undetected liver problem

• Mother’s use of the drug during pregnancy, including antibiotics, anticoagulants, and anticonvulsants

Raising Your Baby’s Vitamin K Levels Naturally

Oral supplementation is the safest way to increase their levels of vitamin K. The only problem with oral vitamin K is that it is not absorbed efficiently. However, this can be compensated by increasing the dosage. Consult your pediatrician to learn the proper dosage for your baby.

Another method of increasing your newborn’s vitamin K levels is by breastfeeding. Low doses of vitamin K1 have been found in breast milk. Of course, before you can use this, it is important to optimize your own vitamin K levels first.

In order to do so, you need to learn about the two types of vitamin K.

1. Vitamin K1 – This type of vitamin K is produced in plants and is available in dark green leafy vegetables. Chlorophyll, the substance that turns these vegetables green, contains the vitamin K1. The greener the vegetable, the more chlorophyll and vitamin K1 it has. Examples of food you can eat are collard greens, salad greens, broccoli, spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts.

2. Vitamin K2 – This naturally occurs in your body and is produced by the bacteria that line up your gastrointestinal tract. It was found that inside your body, vitamin K2 can convert to vitamin K1. The richest source of vitamin K2 is a Japanese fermented soybean dish called natto. Other sources of K2 include other cultured foods, such as fermented cheeses and kefir.

Vitamin K absorption from foods may be insufficient. Some experts recommend taking an additional vitamin K supplement when eating K-rich foods.

When taking a supplement, it is important to note that vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient. Your diet should contain fats for it to be absorbed effectively. Take the supplement prior to a meal.

Are Vitamin K Shots Recommended for Your Baby?

Another option would be to give your baby vitamin K shots immediately after birth. However, there is a debate of whether or not this is wise for your baby.

Although administering vitamin K shots is effective in raising your baby’s vitamin K levels, there are a few complications involved. For instance, injections at such an early stage can leave them with psycho-emotional trauma that may affect their growth and development.

For instance, studies found that the earlier babies experience pain, the longer and more damaging the psychological and emotional effects are. They show an altered response to pain and stress. There may also be some changes in their central nervous system and immune system as they mature.

Another problem surrounding this is that vitamin K shots contain 20,000 times the amount of the recommended dosage. Because vitamin K shots are synthetic in nature, your baby may be exposed to dangerous chemicals that his/her underdeveloped immune system cannot handle.

While the choice to give your baby vitamin K shots is up to you, it is best to know all the pros and cons of this decision.

About the Author

Mishka Thomas is a mother of three children who blogs about parenting and children’s nutrition. She recently featured vitamin K2 on her blog, and wrote about the pros and cons of giving vitamin K shots to newborns.

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