High-Risk Newborns - Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn)
What is vitamin K deficiency bleeding?
Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) is a bleeding problem that occurs in a newborn during the first few days of life. VKDB was previously called hemorrhagic disease of the newborn.
What causes vitamin K deficiency bleeding?
Babies are normally born with low levels of vitamin K, an essential factor in blood clotting. A deficiency in vitamin K is the main cause of VKDB.
Who is affected by vitamin K deficiency bleeding?
Vitamin K deficiency may result in bleeding in a very small percentage of babies. Babies at risk for developing VKDB include the following:
- babies who do not receive preventive vitamin K in an injection at birth
- exclusively breastfed babies (breast milk contains less vitamin K than cow's milk formula.)
- babies whose mothers have seizure disorders and take anti-convulsant medications
Why is vitamin K deficiency bleeding a concern?
Without the clotting factor, bleeding occurs, and severe bleeding or hemorrhage can result.
What are the symptoms of vitamin K deficiency bleeding?
The following are the most common symptoms of hemorrhagic disease of the newborn. However, each baby may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- blood in the baby's bowel movements
- blood in urine
- oozing around the umbilical cord
The symptoms of VKDB may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your baby's physician for a diagnosis.
How is vitamin K deficiency bleeding diagnosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, a diagnosis is based on the signs of bleeding and by laboratory tests for blood clotting times.
Treatment for vitamin K deficiency bleeding:
Specific treatment for VKDB will be determined by your baby's physician based on:
- your baby's gestational age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disease
- your baby's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends giving every newborn baby an injection of vitamin K after delivery to prevent this potentially life-threatening disease.
If bleeding occurs, vitamin K is also given. Blood transfusions may also be needed if bleeding is severe.
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Disclaimer - This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional. © 2009 Staywell Custom Communications.