Hemorrhagic disease of the newborn, more aptly termed “Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB),” has long been recognized as a cause of significant morbidity and mortality in early infancy. A single intramuscular dose of vitamin K administered at birth has virtually eliminated VKDB, and this prophylactic regimen has been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics since 1961. Although most newborns in the United States receive vitamin K at birth, a growing number of parents are hesitant about this intervention, citing concerns about harm from the injection, preservatives contained in the medication, and clashes with personal belief systems. Ultimately, there is distrust in the medical establishment as many of these parents also opt out of newborn ophthalmic prophylaxis and importantly, childhood vaccinations, establishing a dangerous public health precedent that will lead to resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases. Various shared decision making models and educational efforts can assist newborn health care professionals in addressing these parental concerns so that VKDB can be effectively prevented in all newborns.
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Rogers, T.P., Fathi, O. & Sánchez, P.J. Neonatologists and vitamin K hesitancy. J Perinatol (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41372-023-01611-w