When my sister’s husband said that he wouldn’t vaccinate my niece if they didn’t make it so hard to get them into school, I about slapped him silly. That is the ultimate sign to me of lazy and uneducated parenting, which unfortunately can endanger the lives, not only of those children who are not vaccinated, but others who may not be old enough for example who are exposed to them, but it’s going even further. Anti-vaxxers aren’t going to stop or bother to think now. They have recently started to reject a simple vitamin K injection that has been a standard part of newborn care for years, since the 1960’s in fact.
What happens is parents who find themselves in the emergency room with a baby with vitamin K deficiency bleeding. Chris Mooney reports,
This rare disorder occurs because human infants do not have enough vitamin K, a blood coagulant, in their systems. Infants who develop VKDB can bleed in various parts of their bodies, including bleeding in the brain. This can lead to death in some cases.
The problem has been going on for a while, but really came to light just recently this spring. Tom Wilemon, writing for the Tennessean, noticed 7 babies being admitted to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in just 8 months with vitamin K deficiency bleeding. Doctors believe they were directly caused by parents refusing the injection, because apparently they’ve heard that the shot causes leukemia. Just like vaccines, which most kids get, vitamin K injections have never been proven to have this effect. In fact,
followup studies disproved that theory, according to Vanderbilt doctors.
For one of the families, twins were both diagnosed with the same issue after they found out about the lack of a vitamin K shot. For the twin who had already developed bleeding though, the damage was done. Tests showed multiple brain bleeds, and he will now be undergoing physical therapy for neuromuscular development issues. They have not determined whether or not he will be mentally handicapped.
Ironically, doctors have found that women who breastfeed exclusively are under an even greater need to provide their babies with the vitamin K shot. Considering how we hold breastfeeding up like the holy grail of child care, especially in the communities where vaccinations are low, it’s a bit scary.
VKDB can show up in 2 basic forms: an
early form (in the first week of life) and a
late form, which is considerably more dangerous. It tends to strike between 2 and 12 weeks, and it strikes in infants who have not received vitamin K and are exclusively breastfed. The irony is that vitamin K levels are significantly lower in breast milk than in formula.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that infants who don’t get vitamin K injections are 81 times more likely to experience the late form of VKDB. This equals out to about 4.4 and 7.2 infants out of every 100,000. What we can say is that vitamin K injections do not cause cancer, but a vitamin K injection is
virtually 100% protective against this brain bleed.