In Tennessee, seven babies have been hospitalized for 'vitamin K deficiency bleeding' (VKDB). Because infants don't naturally produce enough of the coagulant, a deficit in vitamin K can cause internal bleeding, which in turn can lead to brain damage or even death.
According to an article in Mother Jones, the incidence of VKDB is worrying, given that since 1961 infants have been receiving the vitamin by injection as a matter of course.
Although the injection is a vitamin—and not a vaccine—some parents clearly find the process objectionable, and are leaving their babies unprotected against VKDB.
"There's a lot of overlap with that anti-vaccine mentality," says pediatrician Clay Jones, and the American Academy of Pediatrics also rejects any causal link between the injection and leukemia.
Jones explains that breast milk does not contain sufficient levels of vitamin K to protect an infant against the disorder, which is more serious in later stages.
The article points out that concerned parents have the option of administering the vitamin orally.
"And so we have good data that shows that while oral is certainly better than nothing, it is not as effective as intramuscular dosing," says Jones. It's crucial that medical and midwifery staff adequately communicates the need for the vitamin K shot.
Pediatricians are cracking down on parents who opt out of vaccines.