Baby Vitamin K

By Nicolas E.

Image of Baby Vitamin K.

Vitamin K was first found in 1929 by a Danish scientist named Henrik Dam, who found a correlation between bleeding disease and cholesterol-depleted diet on chickens, for this and continuous research with Edward Adelbert Doisy, Henrik and Edward received the Nobel Prize 1943. The name vitamin K comes from Koagulationsvitamin, which is Danish for coagulation vitamin.

Vitamin K is an important vitamin mostly because it regulates the blood coagulation, as the name states. To have low levels of vitamin K is very unusual because the largest quantity of vitamin K that we need are produced in the intestine.

The problem for newborn babies is that the vitamin K is produced by the intestinal flora. And when the baby is born, the intestine is sterile. and there is relative small amounts of vitamin k in breast milk. This means that the baby is going through a phase of low vitamin K the first 7-10 days when the intestinal flora is building up. That is why we give babies an injection of vitamin K at birth in most countries. Because the vitamin k from breast milk is not sufficient to meet the babies needs.

It is normal for babies to have low amounts of vitamin K from birth to the first two weeks. But this condition can cause vitamin k deficiency bleeding to about 10 / 100 000 newborn babies. And this is highly fatal. This can either occur when born, or it can show up later after 4 to 12 weeks. If the disease is showing up later in the baby’s life, it can be because the mother has low levels of vitamin K, or the baby can have some type of liver disease or malfunction. It can also be caused from medicines that affect the blood coagulation that the mother has taken.

The bleedings that starts within 24 hours can often be because of medicines that the mother has taken during pregnancy. Some medicines that affect the blood coagulation can also impact on the vitamin K composition. Mothers should always mention the medicines she is eating to her doctor when pregnant. And when given medicine, she should always inform her doctor if she is or is planning to become pregnant.   

For adults, it is very rare to have low amounts of vitamin K, because its in the most types of food and is also produced in the intestine. Deficit of Vitamin K mostly affects people that have intestine diseases or reduced capability of nutrition. 

You can read more about vitamin K on wikipedias homepage, there you can find very useful information.