Four babies hemorrhage after parents refuse vitamin K shot, a practice on the rise

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Maternity care providers here and nationwide are on high alert for life-threatening vitamin K deficiencies in newborns, at the same time they are seeing more parents refusing a routine preventive injection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report last month about four babies in Nashville, Tenn., who hemorrhaged after their parents refused vitamin K injections at birth. The babies were diagnosed with life-threatening vitamin K deficiency bleeding between February and September. Three had bleeding in the brain, and one had gastrointestinal bleeding. They survived, but the infants with brain hemorrhages could have long-term neurological problems.

“Not giving vitamin K at birth is an emerging trend that can have devastating outcomes for infants and their families,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden stated in the report. “Ensuring that every newborn receives a vitamin K injection at birth is critical to protect infants.”

The vitamin is necessary for normal blood clotting, but because vitamin K does not transfer well across the placenta, most babies are born with low levels. The deficiency can lead to a rare, sudden bleeding disorder up to 6 months of age.

Written By: Michele Munz
continue to source article at stltoday.com

23 COMMENTS

  1. Wait…let me guess…these parents are either anti-vaxxer nuts who have confused vitamin shots with vaccines, or they’ve got some stupid, baseless religious objection. What kind of parent risks brain and organ damage due to hemorrhage by refusing a simple vitamin injection? These poor infants have been born with a double handicap – the risk of hemorrhage AND criminally ignorant parents.

    • In reply to #1 by Sue Blue:

      Wait…let me guess…these parents are either anti-vaxxer nuts who have confused vitamin shots with vaccines, or they’ve got some stupid, baseless religious objection.

      Not clear it’s religious more anti-vaxxer, natural birth.

      The CDC investigation found that parents refused the injection for several reasons, including a concern about an increased risk for cancer from the injection, an impression that it was unnecessary and a desire to minimize exposure to “toxins.” A 1992 study associated vitamin K and childhood leukemia, but the findings have been debunked by subsequent studies.

      Over the past year, at least one or two parents a week have questioned the injection, said providers at the St. Louis area’s two busiest birthing hospitals, Mercy Hospital St. Louis and Missouri Baptist Medical Center. Those two hospitals tend to have the most parents seeking natural births, and parents seeking to avoid the risks of medical interventions during labor and delivery are often the ones questioning the shot.

      Most skeptics are eventually convinced to consent to the injection, but others still refuse or opt for a less-effective oral dose, said Dr. Kelly Ross, a pediatric hospitalist who works at area BJC HealthCare hospitals, including Missouri Baptist.

      “It is increasing,” Ross said, “and I think it’s going to continue to increase as these moms continue to communicate on the Internet and say to each other, ‘Don’t do this.’”

      Michael

    • In reply to #1 by Sue Blue:

      Wait…let me guess…

      No Sue, don’t guess.. read the f***ing article.

      “The CDC investigation found that parents refused the injection for several reasons, including a concern about an increased risk for cancer from the injection, an impression that it was unnecessary and a desire to minimize exposure to “toxins.” … “In some cases it is a simple fear of big pharma and mistrust of government recommendations. Other parents in our practice believe strongly that babies are born with a delicate balance of hormones, bacteria, blood cells, etc., that we don’t fully understand and can easily disrupt with unknown consequence,”

      The arguments may be ignorant and in some cases New-Agey, but they ain’t particularly anti-vaxxy and definitely not religious!

      People making baseless claims on “faith” are rightly the subject of ridicule on this site, let’s stick to reason and science, rather than ranting on the basis of nothing more than an erroneous “guess”!

      Luv, Stew

      • In reply to #20 by Stew282:

        In reply to #1 by Sue Blue:

        Wait…let me guess…

        No Sue, don’t guess.. read the f***ing article

        “The CDC investigation found that parents refused the injection for several reasons, including a concern about an increased risk for cancer from the injection, an impression that it was unnecessary…

        Perhaps I was too hasty in my assessment of the factors behind this trend, but what, exactly, is the mitigating difference between ignorant “beliefs” based on religion and equally baseless beliefs based on New Age crap, anti-vaxxer ignorance, popular media-fueled paranoia, and ignorance of basic biology? Undereducated people with preconceived superstitious beliefs of any kind can have a hard time parsing the information available on the internet and figuring out what’s reasonable and what isn’t – but as an RN I can tell you that most OB/GYNs, pediatricians, and nurses must stay up-to-date with the latest research on the treatments they give, and they are a reliable source of information for parents. Would you believe a scare article in Cosmo over the advice of your experienced pediatrician in a reputable practice at a major hospital? You don’t have to be a biologist or physician to come to a rational decision when it’s your child’s health that’s at stake.

    • In reply to #3 by Neodarwinian:

      Exposure to toxins?!?

      Mr Natural rises again? Or he never left the building.

      Yep natural is always better. Who wouldn’t want a return to natural infant mortality rates, natural maternal death rates, natural polio, natural TB, etc. Sorry I’ve been reading Call the Midwife.

      Michael

      • It’s horrifying, but it does raise some questions for me ( perhaps I misunderstand how it all works ) .

        Thanks to modern medicine, when can prevent problems that would have otherwise killed us as children.
        So in “the wild” , we would have died from certain conditions, thus removing certain genetic weaknesses from the gene pool ( natural selection ).

        What is the long term impact of this ? Are we slowly becoming more and more dependent on medicine ?

        In reply to #7 by mmurray:

        In reply to #3 by Neodarwinian:

        Exposure to toxins?!?

        Mr Natural rises again? Or he never left the building.

        Yep natural is always better. Who wouldn’t want a return to natural infant mortality rates, natural maternal death rates, natural polio, natural TB, etc. Sorry I’ve been reading Call the…

        • In reply to #9 by kenny77:

          It’s horrifying, but it does raise some questions for me ( perhaps I misunderstand how it all works ) .

          Thanks to modern medicine, when can prevent problems that would have otherwise killed us as children.
          So in “the wild” , we would have died from certain conditions, thus removing certain genetic weaknesses from the gene pool ( natural selection ).

          What is the long term impact of this ? Are we slowly becoming more and more dependent on medicine ?

          It’s not clear that these weaknesses were ever going to be removed. Some of these diseases babies die of had been around for a very long time and babies still died of them until we developed a treatment. So they weren’t being selected out. Plus diseases change as we adapt to them. I would have thought that if you removed all medicine and vaccination today then in a century we would be back to death rates like the 1700s or thereabouts. Probably better as we at least understand germ theory and hygiene and would know things like the need to isolate TB patients.

          Michael

    • In reply to #3 by Neodarwinian:

      Exposure to toxins?!?

      Mr Natural rises again? Or he never left the building.

      I think doctors should always offer a natural alternative to medicine. just explain very clearly that it’s called “selection”

    • In reply to #4 by Narcissistic_Martyr:

      We as society need to stand up to this bullshit these parents murdered their children and should be put to death for their crimes. Nor ifs and or buts.

      Not sure what you are talking about. Did you read the article where it said

      They survived,

      Michael

    • In reply to #4 by Narcissistic_Martyr:

      We as society need to stand up to this bullshit these parents murdered their children and should be put to death for their crimes. Nor ifs and or buts.

      have to disagree. how about “if” there were ever a corrolation between capital punishment and improved society rather than a barbaric consession to the desires of the unenlightened to satisfy the needs of vengence and bloodlust harboured by apes incapable of the self-analysis required to seperate external events from their own unresolved personal issues then I would suggest you make a more coherent case; or “but” I don’t really think you read this before hiting auto-rant

  2. Interesting. Reprehensible, but the anti-vax movement, stupid as it is, is made possible by the fact that the medical industry does not police itself and frequently does not have patients’ best interests in mind. The AMA was the deciding factor in rejecting single-payer health insurance the first two times it was brought up (under Nixon and Clinton) which makes healthcare worse and more expensive for everyone in order to protect their own profits, medical schools artificially restrict the number of entrants to keep doctors rare (and fees high), hospitals don’t track surgical mayhem (see the nonfiction book “Trials of an Expert Witness” by the late neurologist Harold Klawans, for example) because it would make them look bad, and the pharmaceutical industry is so notoriously corrupt that it has become the punchline to a bad joke. If doctors want people to start trusting them again, they need to start being trustworthy FIRST.

  3. From reading this article completely, it appears this is another case of those that believe “everything they hear, see, or read” on the internet. Two national studies, one in 2010 and another in 2012 (because we couldn’t believe the outcome of the first one– we thought something had gone wrong with the survey) found that 40 percent of Americans believe everything they hear, see or read on the Internet… that means 40 percent are credulous to the extreme. We have talked about this before– the lack of critical thinking that leads to belief in such crazy notions such as the fear of vaccines, vitamin K injections, or belief in religious myth. It’s really frightening…

  4. Really these parents should be prosecuted for child neglect or something.

    And since the offence is known about at the moment of birth, in the delivery room, hospitals should be obliged to make a formal report to the relevant prosecutors.

    Although I suppose the morons will then start insisting on home births without qualified medical personnel….

  5. The vitamin K discussion should occur long before birth with the tragic possibilities outlined and highlighted. The other “solution” would be to include vit K language in such as way as to say “vitamin K will be administered in cases where…” in the legal/contractual documents the parents have to sign either with their OB/GYN or the hospital itself. This way by signing the appropriate documentation the hospital already has the legal authority to administer the needed medication. Meticulous parents would read this of course and the conversation could take place then. Other parents…well, who cares? The infant would get the needed shot and that would be the end of it.

  6. Well I refused Vitamin K for my daughter born 21 years ago. At the time there was a scare from some study that found giving vitamin K increased the chances of childhood cancer. When our second daughter was born some four years later it was claimed that there was no extra risk of cancer from Vitamin K, but due to midwife incompetence she got a double dose. Fortunately they both seem to have survived. I should point out that it was doctors that were advising about the risk of cancer with vitamin K not hearsay.

    • In reply to #18 by KeithSloan:

      Well I refused Vitamin K for my daughter born 21 years ago. At the time there was a scare from some study that found giving vitamin K increased the chances of childhood cancer. When our second daughter was born some four years later it was claimed that there was no extra risk of cancer from Vitamin…

      i found this article with a quick search: The Dark Side of the Routine Newborn Vitamin K Shot

      I think the article is kind of flaky, talking about the “trauma” of getting a routine shot seems kind of out there. But the point is even that article said: “It was suggested some years ago that vitamin K injections were associated with cancer and leukemia. However, that conclusion was in error. There is NO known association between the two. “

      It’s also kind of ironic that the article on the one hand talks about the trauma of an infant getting a shot and then routinely talks about circumcision as if THAT is no big deal.

  7. 4 babies out of 4 million born last year. So… This is a very low risk then? Somewhere being killed in a train crash (1:500,000) and a plane crash (1:10,000,000). And in fact it’s far LESS likely that dying from medical incompetence (1:1500 over a lifetime).

    I don’t see this as cause to pull out the anti-vaxxer signs just yet. Rather tellingly, the NHS presents this as entirely optional:
    http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/your-baby-after-birth.aspx

    • In reply to #21 by ANTIcarrot:

      4 babies out of 4 million born last year. So… This is a very low risk then?

      This is 4 babies in Nashville, Tennessee in a 7 month period. The Davidson County natality data for 2010 records 9557 births in that year. 4 cases of HDN in that time equals an incidence of about 70 per 100,000 or 10 times the incidence stated in the article. Looking at the source report, one reason for the alarm is that there were no recorded cases of late-onset (after 6 weeks) HDN in Nashville from 2007-2012. Hence they are looking for other factors in addition to refusal of Vitamin K injection.

      Rather tellingly, the NHS presents this as entirely optional: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/your-baby-after-birth.aspx

      It presents the injection as optional; incorrectly in my opinion. Oral Vitamin K is unnecessarily complicated – it needs multiple doses over the first month of life to protect against early/Classical HDN and has not been trial-proven to prevent late HDN (which is responsible for almost all the bad outcomes as over half present with brain-bleeds)

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