Vitamin K and eye drops with newborns?
What exactly are the eye drops and the vitamin K given to newborns for? Are there any effects they may have on the baby?
- Anonymous1 decade agoFavorite Answer
The eye drops are to prevent infection in case the mom managed to contract gonorrhea or other STI during her pregnancy after the STI testing. It used to be silver nitrate and may still be in some places other places use an antibiotic cream (Erythromycin). These preparations can cause pain, and will obscure the vision for awhile after birth. They are also unnecessary as even if the baby contracted an infection it would be obvious, and most mothers can be counted on to take their baby to the doctor if instructed of the importance of treating eye infections in the newborn.
Vitamin K is an even more difficult decision. It is said that "all babies have low levels of vitamin K" and that low-levels of vitamin K are a contributing factor to Haemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn. However if all babies have a certain level of vitamin K that doesn't make it low -that makes it normal. Having too much vitamin K can increase the clotting rate of blood and who knows why newborns have lower levels than adults. It could protect against many things.
Use of vitamin K can also mask the real problem that would cause HDN.
Early cord clamping also deprives a baby of much needed blood and clotting factors and yet most doctors will not consider changing this practice -even though in the 1800's cutting the umbilical cord before it had stopped pulsing was grounds to face a tribunal and possible punishment including jail.
The forces of nature are so focused on a successful birth that it just seems unlikely that all babies are deficient in vitamin K. Instead of simply accepting that nature goofed about clotting factors in newborns, I thought about all the ways that interventions at birth interfere with the normal physiological birth process regarding clotting. The most obvious intervention is premature cutting of the umbilical cord; this deprives a newborn of 25% to 40% of the physiological blood volume, and thus 25% to 40% of the physiological clotting factors that nature intended to be present in the newborn's blood. As someone who does Newborn Screening heelsticks on newborns whose umbilical cords were not cut prematurely (and some of whom did not receive supplemental vitamin K), I can tell you that they have no trouble clotting normally. This solves the problem of early-onset or classical HDN.
Although vitamin K doesn't pass easily from the mother's bloodstream to the newborn through the placenta, it DOES pass easily through breastmilk. (Doesn't this seem like a strong clue that nature is actually protecting the baby somehow by managing the clotting factors in a very specific way?) Women who eat lots of fresh, leafy green vegetables will pass the vitamin K through to their babies, and this will protect them from late-onset HDN.
So, maybe nature got it right, after all, and all we have to do is support physiological health by waiting at least 5 minutes after the birth to cut the cord and by encouraging nursing mothers to eat lots of fresh, leafygreen vegetables (or take a vitamin K supplement).
controversy? what controversy?
'Low' in relation to whom? If all babies have low levels, then who has the 'normal' levels against which this is measured? Well, believe it or not, only adults are perceived by the medical profession to have normal levels of vitamin K. Yet there is a big gap between noticing that babies have relatively lower levels than adults and deeming this a pathological condition which needs routine treatment.
Babies also have large heads relative to adults, but this is not perceived as pathological. This is deemed a good thing, because the human brain needs to be large at birth. Why is the fact that relative vitamin K levels differ between newborn and adult perceived as pathological?
Philosophically, the question is raised that, if all babies have what is perceived as a 'low' level of vitamin K, then in reality this must be the 'normal level' of vitamin K for babies to have. Even if proponents of vitamin K think that this is 'too low' a level for some reason, they should say this, rather than telling women their baby is deficient in an essential substance. Otherwise, this just reinforces the idea that women are relatively inefficient at making babies and need to be supplemented by the skills and technology of hospitals and doctors.
'Fact' 2: Babies need vitamin K to prevent late-onset haemorrhagic disease, which can cause serious complications.
There is no doubt that some babies suffer from late-onset haemorrhagic disease (HDN), and there is also no doubt that this can be dangerous for some babies. But does this mean that all babies should be given vitamin K? The risk of a baby who is not given vitamin K developing HDN is between 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 25,000 (Von Kries and Hanawa 1993). We also know that the babies most at risk from HDN are those who have traumatic births (clinically, this might include babies who are delivered by forceps, ventouse or emergency caesarean section, or babies who show bruising).
Babies who are born physiologically, or without undue trauma, are at the very lowest risk of developing HDN. Of course, there are never any guarantees either way; there is still a risk that a baby who is born physiologically will develop HDN, just as there is a risk that a baby given vitamin K may still develop HDN, or suffer from other side effects.
For example, the risk of healthy babies developing cancer as a result of being given vitamin K may be higher than the risk of developing HDN without (Parker et al 1998, Passmore et al 1998). Anecdotal evidence suggests that babies given vitamin K may be more at risk from jaundice, which may lead to the need for interventions. Unfortunately, we need much more research evidence in order to assess these relative risks and offer women statistics concerning every aspect of this decision (Slattery 1994, Wickham 2000).
Von Kries (1998) points out that some of the babies who are diagnosed as having HDN caused by vitamin K deficiency actually have HDN caused by underlying cholestatic disease (where there is a stoppage or suppression of bile flow). Even if giving vitamin K to these babies could prevent the development of HDN, we should not be saying that they have HDN because they were not given vitamin K.
This just confuses and confounds the issue and is a bit like saying that someone who was hit on the head by a block of wood has a headache because they weren't given an aspirin. The idea of giving vitamin K to all babies may then be akin to the suggestion that we should all take an aspirin before going outside just in case we are hit on the head by a block of wood.
- SoBoxLv 71 decade ago
They help prevent infection. They are safe, but can blur a newborn's vision a bit temporarily - the same way an adult's vision can blur after getting drops at an eye exam. You can request that your newborn's drops be given a few hours after birth instead of right away. That's what I did, as I wanted to give my son a chance to bond with me and see me first.
- 1 decade ago
The eye ointment or drops are to prevent any infection the baby might get in the eyes during birth, even c-sections. The vitamin K is to help stimulate the baby's clotting factors to prevent bleeding problems. I have never seen any affects from them.
- How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
- 1 decade ago