Anti-Vaccination Movement Could Be Prompting Parents to Skip Other Important Shot
Photo by Getty Images
The anti-vaccination movement might be behind a new disturbing trend of parents refusing a lifesaving vitamin injection for their newborns.
Late last year, doctors at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., began diagnosing several infants with a rare bleeding disorder caused by a vitamin K deficiency that affects 1 in 100,000 babies. By May, they had seen seven cases in eight months, as reported by The Tennessean. The relative spike in occurrences, they soon discovered, was related to the parents' refusal of a simple shot given right after birth.
Newborns are naturally deficient in vitamin K, the vitamin that causes blood to coagulate. Mothers do not pass enough vitamin K to their child in the womb, nor is there a sufficient amount in breast milk. The lack of this vital nutrient increases the risk of vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB), a condition that causes internal bleeding and can lead to brain damage and death.
VKDB is rare, thanks in large part to the fact that it is easy to prevent. A simple vitamin K shot in the leg within 24 hours after birth will protect infants from the bleeding disorder. As Chris Mooney noted in an article for Mother Jones, the shot has been in regular use since 1961, when the American Academy of Pediatrics first recommended it. Yet a growing number of parents are refusing the shot for their newborns.
Dr. Robert Sidonio, a Vanderbilt pediatrician who has been tracking their VKDB cases, believes the increase in parents deciding against the vitamin K shot is part of the general anti-vaccine movement. As for who is refusing vitamin K for their babies, "The group includes people who are fairly liberal and those with strong religious beliefs," Sidonio told Yahoo Health. "It's not purely a religious objection like most people think. And unfortunately, there are a lot of bad websites that are spreading misinformation."