Saturday, May 1, 2010

Vitamin K Shot for Newborns

According to Doris Haire’s idea that epidurals and spinal anesthesia given to a laboring mother-to-be causes hemorrhage in the newborn, the vitamin K shot is not what is needed for the newborn: a drugless birth is. Prevention is not always giving something in order to possibly stop something bad from happening. It is analyzing why something bad may occur in the first place and not allowing it to happen. Is the vitamin K shot prevention, or permission to interfere medically, possibly negligently?

Because of the education and training acquired, perhaps weekly Bradley Method classes for expectant parents would help assure a drugless birthing process. At the very least, an expectant mother could ask to read the packages or paper work that come with a drug like bupivicaine long before labor to ascertain if she really wants to subject her fetus to the possible side effects. After all, reading the insert of the actual product a doctor may administer is truly informed consent. The Bradley Method supports active participation in the birthing process for home or hospital births and can help the father-to-be feel competent and supportive.

In considering birthing at home, for example, the expectant mother takes into consideration that her body is familiar with the germs within her own home. Precautions involving sterilization and cleanliness are put into place. When an expectant mother gives birth in her home environment, there is definitely a reduced need for antibiotics compared with that of a hospital, when the circulating air and the laundry (her hospital bed sheets being washed with all manner of germy bed sheets) are taken into consideration. Babies reportedly make two clotting factors close to their due date, right before birth. In an unborn child, the liver’s ability to produce blood clotting factors would be inhibited by the delivering mother’s antibiotic use, so the safer she is, the less need for antibiotics.

Antibiotic use by the mother also lowers her “bugs,” which some researches feel is unfortunate for the fetus in two ways. Being exposed to the mother’s bacteria-laden feces at birth may help the baby’s intestinal flora to make vitamin K. Also, the mom’s antibiotic use will lower the baby’s intestinal flora via the antibiotic crossing the placenta. The less need for antibiotics, the less need for the newborn to receive the vitamin K shot.

How is a newborn’s inability to clot blood related to the routine use of the vitamin K shot at birth? What is in the vitamin K shot, and how can humans get it naturally? Why would parents want to opt out of their newborn having the shot?
How is a newborn’s inability to clot blood related to the routine use of the vitamin K shot at birth? What is in the vitamin K shot, and how can humans get it naturally? Why would parents want to opt out of their newborn having the shot?

A newborn’s inability to clot blood the same as an older infant is related to the routine use of the vitamin K shot at birth because it is believed that the shot helps the baby to stop bleeding if bleeding should occur. Whether bleeding occurs or not, doctors think it of no consequence to have administered this anti-hemorrhage vitamin, believing it is better to be safe than sorry. In the U.S., the injection is delivered intramuscularly into the thigh. In Europe, three oral doses are administered.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that the need for the shot is seen in vitamin K deficient two to twelve week-old babies. The deficiency occurred “primarily in exclusively breastfed infants who have received no or inadequate neonatal vitamin K prophylaxis.” Among mothers who have breast fed their infants, it would be hard to find any who breast fed exclusively for a lengthy time, at least in America. And when I asked several mothers if their infant had received the vitamin K shot, none said that they declined the shot, and most did not have a clue that it had been given to their baby. My baby was exclusively breastfed for six months (breastfed for nineteen months in all) and did not have the shot, and was not included in any study. The criteria for this research, a baby being exclusively breast fed for a lengthy time and having received no vitamin K, seems hard to come by, requiring a second a look at AAP study. Where did the AAP test this? How many two to twelve week old babies were included in the above research? If these were babies out of the reach of U.S. medical care, perhaps malnutrition or cleanliness were issues as well.

As far as data collection goes, babies within the first three months of life who do not receive the shot should statistically be included in hemorrhage or no hemorrhage categories. Next, babies who do receive the vitamin K shot at birth should be included in hemorrhage or no hemorrhage categories. Including the statistic of the mother’s drug use, or lack of drug use, would only add to the researchers’ and consumers’ understanding of this shot’s needfulness, effectiveness, and usefulness. As it is, only 0.25 to 1.7 percent of babies are recorded as having a hemorrhagic problem. Unfortunately, the research does not indicate if these hemorrhagic babies received a shot or did not receive a shot, and we don’t know if their mothers were on epileptic medicines, antibiotics, or administered drugs during the birth or not. In my own case, my daughter did not have the shot or any vitamin K procedure at or after her birth; she had a drugless birth, and she did not bleed. I repeat: no one has gathered information on this birth in any statistic. Even though past research does not confirm a genuine need for administering the vitamin K shot, this shot is routinely given at hospital, birth center, and home births.

Perhaps, overall, the births that take place in hospitals are more violent, since labor often has to be started again once the mother-to-be arrives, and the environment is very controlled, with the mother being hooked up to machines and gadgets. As a result, forceps, suction, and C-section procedures may be of higher frequency in hospital settings, and these procedures may lead to internal bleeding in the newborn. Those considering allowing their newborn to have this shot might research statistics on medical intervention procedures that can lead to bleeding in hospitals compared to the statistics of the use of these procedures in birthing center births and home births.

What is in the vitamin K shot and how can humans get vitamin K naturally? Vitamin K is a group of compounds including the plant form, phytonadione, which is found in food sources such as alfalfa, broccoli, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, and seaweeds; menaquinone is made in the human intestine with the help of bacteria; and the synthetic form, menadiol, is in the shot. Some sources boast that vitamin K does not cross placental barriers and therefore the fetus does not benefit from the mother’s ingestion of vitamin K. Other sources claim it does. Some sources say that the mother’s bacteria within her feces can help colonize the bacteria in the newborn during birth.

I personally started ingesting Chlorella two months prior to my daughter’s due date with the intention of giving her every chance to be able to handle minor bleeding should it occur. Food products with chlorophyll, such as Chlorella and Barley Essence, are helpful for our blood. Dr. Yoshihide Hagiwara wrote long ago that chlorophyll, which gives plants their green color, and human blood are chemically identical, except that chlorophyll has magnesium in the center of the molecule, while human blood has iron in the center. Of course, if the midwives had judged at any point in the birthing process that the shot had been necessary, they had my permission to administer it.

Why would parents want to opt out of having their newborn receive the shot? There are separate consequences, as some apply to the procedure and some to the baby. There are several negative consequences associated with the shot: the ingredients themselves may cause problems to the newborn and the needle stick area may be exposed to germs as the shot is administered. As a result of receiving the shot, if an unnecessary procedure, the baby may experience over-toxicity of vitamin K and inappropriate cell division, and may develop psychological problems.

Like with any vitamin, mineral, or drug, use of the synthetic form may result in toxicity due to using too much, compared to naturally forming the vitamin from within or ingesting it in a natural form as found in vegetables. Too much vitamin K may lead to toxicity symptoms, such as chest constriction and abnormal clotting that may not be immediately noticed. For further warnings, the label of the shot should be consulted. The AquaMEPHYTON insert says, “Vitamin K should be injected into a muscle or vein only when it cannot be given by injection under the skin or taken by mouth.” Why? Because it may lead to death in some infants. (Ask your doctor or midwife where and how they plan to administer the shot). Other side effects in general may be “an allergic reaction, rash, itching, swelling, dizziness, or trouble breathing.” How is a newborn to express that he or she is feeling dizzy? The vitamin K shot has levels reportedly 20,000 times beyond the newborn’s own levels. So what, if anything, could this mean for a little body suddenly introduced to such high levels of a synthetic form of vitamin K, plus preservatives? One milligram used to be administered to low birth weight babies, like premature babies, since that was the accepted dose for an infant. Now it has been decided that sound protocol is to administer .5-1.0 mg. Many feel this shot was put into use without adequate research.

In addition to risks connected to over-toxicity, because vitamin K regulates cell division, there is a concern that too much in the newborn could lead to out of control cell division, leading to cancer.

Then there is the concern about the preservatives included in the injection. How many parents have allowed this shot without reading the insert to see what preservatives and other ingredients are inside the needle with the vitamin k? Before standing back and allowing this shot to be administered to their child, parents should be aware that benzyl alcohol has been used as a preservative. According to Wikipedia, in the 1980’s the death of sixteen newborns occurred from benzyl alcohol within saline flush solutions because the newborns were unable to metabolize and change the benzyl alcohol to a safe form within their systems. Their deaths led to the recommendation that this preservative not be used in products administered to newborns and that it only be approved in a five percent solution in a lice removal mixture recommended for infants older than six months. That means the lice removal mixture is not recommended for babies less than six months. Is benzyl alcohol in your child’s shot, and is it approved for babies under six months? At any rate, research the ingredients thoroughly to be certain it passes your scrutiny. There is also the question of the microscopic wound made at the needle site on the newborn’s body. A newborn has a weak, immature immune system. Especially if the baby has just been born in a hospital, vicious germs may enter at the injection site. Only if the wound was not there could anyone be certain that germs could not enter. Pain, swelling, and tenderness may result at the injection site and the baby’s awareness of these three symptoms cannot be verbalized.

Most articles that discuss the vitamin K controversy don’t touch on this aspect of the discussion: the needle stick to the baby can lead to possible psychological effects. Imagine it from the baby’s point of view. The baby comes suddenly and violently from a dark, warm, watery environment to a lighted, colder air environment (presuming this is not a water birth) and is absolutely overloaded with stimulation of a variety of types. To top it all off, it is stuck with a needle. What a fine “How do you do!” According to psychologist Dr. David B. Chamberlain, “We must alert the medical community to the psychological hazards of early pain and call for the removal of all man-made pain surrounding birth.” Wow, wouldn’t that be nice for the baby! He goes on to say, “Acute pain caused by skin-breaking procedures can lead to physiologic-instability and behavioral distress, and it has downstream effects on subsequent pain processing, development and stress responsitivity.” It certainly is a shame that modern births are surrounded with sensory overload for the baby. The rooms frequently have strong lights, the first human contact is often through gloved hands, and instruments greet the newborn by poking and jabbing at them. Some researchers believe that the younger the baby is when it is subjected to pain and trauma, the more damaging and longer lasting are the effects.

Some parents and researches feel that the routine administration of vitamin K is an unnecessary procedure. Perhaps parents who are cognizant believe risk factors need to be present in order to administer any drug, vaccine, or synthetic vitamin. Some parents have a mantra that if something is not indicated, then it is not for their child. When you step back and observe how many things will happen to your child simply out of routine, you need to become an expert on each matter and decide for yourselves if all these things are really necessary. For instance, nitrite to the newborn’s eyes, the Hepatitis B shot, and the vitamin K shot are all routinely administered, regardless of whether or not the mother has gonorrhea or Hepatitis B or the baby itself is at risk of bleeding. Some parents feel, for example, that if they do not plan to have a sexually active newborn and if they do not plan to have a drug user newborn, then perhaps the action of routinely giving the Hepatitis B shot to their newborn is not indicated. The vitamin K shot is in the same category of need versus routine.

Some parents opt out of the shot because of a possible cancer correlation. Other researchers state that there is absolutely no proven link between the shot and cancer. Some researchers have postulated that the increase of leukemia in children since the 1970’s could be related to having switched to the shot form of vitamin K in newborns. The only way to be certain would be to have only one intrusion, the vitamin K shot, occur at birth with a certain number of babies compared to no intrusions with the same number of babies, full term. Unfortunately, to know for certain if cancer in a child is due to the vitamin K, the preservative in the shot, or the trillion other factors involved with the child’s upbringing and health care would, in my opinion, be practically impossible. Again, some parents feel why risk their child’s health if the shot is not indicated? The injection supposedly started being administered in the 1970’s, but vitamin K was administered to newborns in some fashion as far back as 1961. So many factors are different with 1970’s kids compared to 2000’s kids that it would be nearly impossible to pinpoint the culprit of the increase in leukemia, but it certainly does not exclude the possibility of the involvement of the shot. I was a 1970’s kid. I did not have my food prepared in a microwave, eat genetically modified foods, or have thirty-plus vaccinations within a short period of time. Many in my generation, in fact, did not watch television to the extent modern kids do, nor did we get our music digitally, have routine exposure to adult levels of content through the media, spend so much time in doors under florescent lighting, and attend classes with crowded conditions and misbehaving classmates. I grew up with a mom who packed my lunch and sent me off to school. I ate breakfast and dinner at a table with my family where we talked. My mother didn’t serve hot dogs or cold cuts. Gosh, there are more factors that are not even coming to mind.

Perhaps parents would like to opt out of the shot, but have the oral kind administered. An oral vitamin K option for parents exists. It is supposedly administered over time, not all at once, so it is something you can inquire about with your obstetrician or midwife. I have also heard that it is not approved in the U.S. and that only injections are to be used in hospitals and birth centers. I have researched many topics over the years, spending fifteen years on vaccines alone before I became pregnant. I have found conflicting information about the need for vitamin K and inconsistent research in the results of having administered it. From the necessity of the shot, to if vitamin K can cross the placenta, to if the one in the shot is fat or water soluble, all need to be carefully considered. If I had the opportunity to decide all over, I would not change my opinion: medical intervention needs to be on a case-by-case basis. Is the procedure indicated for the baby in front of the doctor right now? For parents-to-be, this is only one aspect of your adventure. Good luck!

For expanded information, please read Immunobiology of Human Milk by Lars Hanson and Midwifery Today online. Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin is also a great source about empowered birth.

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