Vanderbilt University's Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, has reported that seven babies, between 7 weeks and 20 weeks old, have experienced brain and intestinal bleeding due to a lack of vitamin K over the past eight months.
The deficiency is apparently due to anti-vaccine parents refusing to allow doctors to inject their newborn babies with vitamin K soon after birth. If left untreated, vitamin K deficiency bleeding can lead to brain damage and death.
"There is no tracking of this in the U.S., unfortunately, and cases are rarely reported," Dr. Robert Sidonio Jr. told The Tennessean. "We are probably just seeing the tip of the iceberg, and I worry that people are missing these cases often and not considering this diagnosis when presented with a sick infant."
Reportedly some parents mistakenly believe there is a preservative in the vitamin K shot that could lead to childhood leukemia. This belief is based on an old study that was debunked, notes Mother Jones.
Newborn babies usually don't get enough vitamin K from their mother's body, so the shot, which is just a vitamin, is crucial.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted in 2013:
The relative risk for developing [internal bleeding] has been estimated at 81 times greater among infants who do not receive intramuscular vitamin K than in infants who do receive it.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Prevention of early vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) of the newborn, with onset at birth to 2 weeks of age (formerly known as classic hemorrhagic disease of the newborn), by oral or parenteral administration of vitamin K is accepted practice.
In contrast, late VKDB, with onset from 2 to 12 weeks of age, is most effectively prevented by parenteral administration of vitamin K. Earlier concern regarding a possible causal association between parenteral vitamin K and childhood cancer has not been substantiated. This revised statement presents updated recommendations for the use of vita- min K in the prevention of early and late VKDB.
But for some parents, medical facts don't hold up against the almighty Google search and the non-medical info that ranks on the first page of results.
Mother Jones notes that a Google search for "vitamin k shots for infants" brings up non-medical websites with headlines such as: "The High Risks of Vitamin K Shot for Your Newborn Baby" and "Skip that Newborn Vitamin K Shot."