Prevention of vitamin K deficiency bleeding in newborns

Br J Haematol. 1999 Mar;104(3):430-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2141.1999.01104.x.


Newborn babies are born vitamin K deficient; however, the deficiency is not sufficiently severe to cause a vitamin K deficiency coagulopathy and haemorrhagic disease of the newborn (HDN). Severe vitamin K deficiency can develop quickly in breast-fed newborns and can result in the appearance of classic HDN during the first week of life or late HDN during the first 2 months of life. Both forms of the disease can be severe, causing brain damage and death. Classic and late HDN are prevented by the intramuscular administration of vitamin K at birth. Oral prophylaxis prevents classic HDN but is ineffective in preventing late HDN. Despite proven effectiveness of intramuscular vitamin K prophylaxis there have been concerns about the need for, and safety of, this therapy. This review provides evidence that there is need for intramuscular vitamin K prophylaxis for all babies in order to eradicate haemorrhagic disease of the newborn and concludes that there is no evidence that this therapy is harmful.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Blood Coagulation
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin K / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin K / metabolism
  • Vitamin K Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin K Deficiency / prevention & control*
  • Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding / blood
  • Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding / prevention & control*


  • Vitamin K