Why Do Newborn Babies Need Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is an essential fat-soluble nutrient that has a vital role of helping in the proper coagulation cascade. It is made up of several forms and among them are vitamins K1, K2, and K3. Vitamin K1 is also known as phylloquinone. It can be obtained from different dietary sources. Menaquinone is another form of vitamin K that is synthesized by the bacteria and menadione is a potent synthetic one.

Importance Of Vitamin K

Why do we need vitamin K? This nutrient is very important for the formation of prothrombin necessary for the proper blood clotting process. If an individual has low levels of vitamin K in the body, profuse bleeding may result. If not treated at once, it might lead to further complications or even death. Adults do not commonly acquire the condition such as vitamin K deficiency. It is due to the fact that they can easily acquire it upon ingestion of foods rich in nutrients. Vitamin K sources in food are of wide variety. However, newborn babies do not have sufficient levels of vitamin K in the body right after birth. That is why administration of vitamin K for newborns is now routinely practiced in the hospitals.

Vitamin K Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin K deficiency symptoms include bleeding internally or externally. HDN or also known as Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn can cause excessive bleeding to infants during the first week of life. There are actually three categories under HDN and they are known as early, classic, and late HDN. Whatever stage it is, prompt medication must be given at once to prevent further complications. The early HDN occurs within the first 24 hours right after the baby is born. The common bleeding sites could be in found in intracranial, intra-abdominal, and intrathoracic. Classic HDN commonly occurs during the first week of life and the bleeding may manifest in sites such as on skin, gastrointestinal, nasal and after the baby is circumcised. For the Late HDN which is commonly fatal, usually happens during first to third months. The bleeding sites can be found on skin, gastrointestinal tract, and intracranial.

With the mentioned complications of HDN, it is indeed very important that prompt treatment must be given. Administration of vitamin K injection to newborn babies is a must. Studies have also shown that infants who are exclusively breast-fed are somewhat more prone of acquiring vitamin K deficiency because human milk contains small amount of this nutrient. On the other hand, bottle-fed babies can be sustained with enough level of vitamin K because formula milks nowadays are supplemented with such.

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