Why are some parents refusing the vitamin K shot for their infants? Well, like parents who refuse to vaccinate their children against measles and other infectious diseases, parents who refuse the vitamin K shot are usually basing their decision on misinformation. Often this information is spread via the Internet and propounded by the same small factions of people that urge parents to avoid or delay childhood vaccines. The rumors surrounding the vitamin K shot, like anti-vaccine rumors, are not based in science or medicine but are the result of fear-mongering.
For instance, one myth is that a preservative in the vitamin K shot can cause childhood leukemia. Scientific studies, however, disprove this theory and the American Academy of Pediatrics, after reviewing various studies on this issue, has concluded that there is “no association between the intramuscular administration of vitamin K and childhood leukemia or other cancers.”And, contrary to some reports online, there are no “toxic” or otherwise unsafe ingredients in the routine vitamin K shot.
Another myth is that the vitamin K injection is unnecessary.Some parents believe that an infant will be sufficiently protected if the mother eats plenty of vitamin K prior to delivery and continues to do so while exclusively breastfeeding. The fact is, a mother simply cannot pass sufficient levels of vitamin K to her infant through breastfeeding, even if she eats kale (one of the richest food sources of the vitamin) until she turns a deep leafy green. And while vitamin K does pass through the placenta to the infant, again the amount passed is insufficient to protect the baby.
Other parents believe that they can protect their infant by giving an oral vitamin K drop, and there are some unscrupulous people who sell these drops online. But the drops are a poor substitute for the intramuscular vitamin K injection, for several reasons. Unlike with the injection, there is no standard regimen or formula for oral vitamin K, so parents using it can’t be assured that their child will be protected adequately, if at all. In addition,the absorption of vitamin K is much less reliablefrom an oral liquid than from the injection; that is, just because the baby swallows it doesn’t guarantee they’re getting the full amount of the vitamin. And moreover, whereas the injection is a one-time, single dose, oral vitamin K must be administered repeatedly over a course of weeks.
Excerted fom the article “Why babies need Vitamin K”, which appeared in Berkley Wellness.