Vitamin K is needed to form blood clots and to stop bleeding. Babies are born with very small amounts of vitamin K stored in their bodies, which can lead to serious bleeding problems like vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB). VKDB can lead to brain damage and death.
Do infants get enough Vitamin K from breast milk?
No. Breast milk is low in vitamin K. Breast milk from mothers who are taking vitamin K supplements is also low in vitamin K.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all newborns, whether breastfed or formula fed, receive a one-time intramuscular shot of vitamin K1 (phytonadione) at a dose of 0.5 to 1.0 milligrams shortly after birth (this is usually given during the birth hospitalization).
A vitamin K shot can be administered after the first feeding at the breast, but not later than 6 hours of age. An oral dose of vitamin K is not recommended. Oral vitamin K is not consistently absorbed through the stomach and intestines, and it does not provide adequate amounts for the breastfed infant. Infants who receive the vitamin K shot do not require further supplementation.
A vitamin K shot given at birth is the best way to prevent low amounts of vitamin K and VKDB in infants.
- Policy Statement on Vitamin K Recommendationsexternal icon – American Academy of Pediatrics
- National Institutes of Health Vitamin K Fact Sheet for Health Professionalsexternal icon – National Institutes of Health
- National Institutes of Health Vitamin K Fact Sheet for Consumersexternal icon – National Institutes of Health
- Facts About Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding – CDC
- Frequently Asked Questions: Vitamin K and the Vitamin K Shot Given at Birth – CDC