Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Vitamin K: A Choice to Protect Your Baby

Doctor giving infant a shot

By Hansa Bhargava, MD

WebMD Pediatrician and Medical Editor

Having a baby is a wonderful experience, but it can also be overwhelming. One issue that new parents face in the newborn nursery is stress over the tests and injections the baby will receive. Those include a vitamin K shot, hepatitis B vaccine, and tests for metabolic illnesses and others. When you’re exhausted after delivery, it may seem easier to refuse one more injection that your baby is scheduled for — one you may not be sure will help your child.

The majority of tests and injections that a newborn receives are absolutely necessary, though. The vitamin K injection is one of them. It’s essential for clotting factors, the “glue” that stops bleeding, to work. Many babies don’t have enough vitamin K in their bodies to help form the clotting factors, and it may take time to build up these levels. Unfortunately, even breast milk does not have enough vitamin K to help the low levels.

Last year in Tennessee, a number of newborns had bleeding in the brain that required surgery. In all of the cases, the parents had refused the vitamin K shots. Doctors at Vanderbilt University Hospital, where the babies were treated, say some of the children have seizure disorders and may have long-term neurological issues and developmental delays.

In a study published this week, researchers found that parents who had refused the vitamin K shot were also more likely to refuse vaccinations.

As a pediatrician and a mom, I find this very alarming. Vitamin K protects babies from bleeding in the first few months of life. Vaccines protect babies from serious illnesses, such as meningitis and pertussis. Babies who don’t get these shots run the chance of getting seriously sick, or even dying.

I understand the stress you might feel from the seemingly long list of shots and tests that your baby needs. But as a pediatrician, I also know that each is given for a very good reason: to protect our babies from some pretty awful problems.


The opinions expressed in WebMD Second Opinion are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Second Opinion are... Expand


Subscribe to free WebMD newsletters.

  • WebMD Daily

    WebMD Daily

    Subscribe to the WebMD Daily, and you'll get today's top health news and trending topics, and the latest and best information from WebMD.

  • Men's Health

    Men's Health

    Subscribe to the Men's Health newsletter for the latest on disease prevention, fitness, sex, nutrition, and more from WebMD.

  • Women's Health

    Women's Health

    Subscribe to the Women's Health newsletter for the latest on disease prevention, fitness, sex, diet, anti-aging, and more from WebMD.

By clicking Submit, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.

URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe online privacy certification HONcode Seal AdChoices