Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn)
What is vitamin K deficiency bleeding?Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) is a bleeding problem that occurs in a newborn during the first few days of life. VKDB was previously called hemorrhagic disease of the newborn.
What causes vitamin K deficiency bleeding?Babies are normally born with low levels of vitamin K, an essential factor in blood clotting. A deficiency in vitamin K is the main cause of VKDB.
Who is affected by vitamin K deficiency bleeding?Vitamin K deficiency may result in bleeding in a very small percentage of babies. Babies at risk for developing vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) include the following:
- babies who do not receive preventive vitamin K in an injection at birth
- exclusively breastfed babies (breast milk contains less vitamin K than cow's milk formula.)
- babies whose mothers have seizure disorders and take anti-convulsant medications
Why is vitamin K deficiency bleeding a concern?Without the clotting factor, bleeding occurs, and severe bleeding or hemorrhage can result.
What are the symptoms of vitamin K deficiency bleeding?The following are the most common symptoms of VKDB. However, each baby may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- blood in the baby's bowel movements
- blood in urine
- oozing around the umbilical cord
How is vitamin K deficiency bleeding diagnosed?In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, a diagnosis is based on the signs of bleeding and by laboratory tests for blood clotting times.
Treatment for vitamin K deficiency bleeding:Specific treatment for VKDB will be determined by your baby's physician based on:
- your baby's gestational age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disease
- your baby's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference
If bleeding occurs, vitamin K is also given. Blood transfusions may also be needed if bleeding is severe.
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