Vitamin K status of lactating mothers, human milk, and breast-feeding infants

Pediatrics. 1991 Oct;88(4):751-6.


Hemorrhagic disease of the newborn is a disease of breast-feeding newborns. There is little information on longitudinal breast milk concentrations of phylloquinone (vitamin K1) or the effects of maternal phylloquinone supplements on breast milk. In study part 1, 11 lactating mothers, who received 20 mg of phylloquinone orally, had rises in plasma (less than 1 to 64.2 +/- 31.5 ng/mL by 6 hours) and breast milk concentrations (from 1.11 +/- 0.82 to 130 +/- 188 ng/mL by 12 hours). In part 2, 23 lactating mothers and their infants were observed longitudinally along with a formula-fed control group of infants (n = 11). Mean breast milk concentrations of phylloquinone at 1, 6, 12, and 26 weeks were 0.64 +/- 0.43, 0.86 +/- 0.52, 1.14 +/- 0.72, and 0.87 +/- 0.50 ng/mL, respectively, in the infants fed human milk. Maternal phylloquinone intakes (72-hour dietary recalls) exceeded the recommended daily allowance of 1 microgram/kg per day. Infant phylloquinone intakes did not achieve the recommended daily allowance of 1 microgram/kg per day in any infant. Plasma phylloquinone concentrations in the infants fed human milk remained extremely low (mean less than 0.25 ng/mL) throughout the first 6 months of life compared with the formula-fed infants (4.39 to 5.99 ng/mL). In this small sample, no infant demonstrated overt vitamin K deficiency. Despite very low plasma phylloquinone concentrations, vitamin K supplements (other than in the immediate newborn period) cannot be recommended for exclusively breast-fed infants based on these data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bottle Feeding
  • Breast Feeding
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn / metabolism*
  • Lactation*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Milk, Human / chemistry*
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Time Factors
  • Vitamin K 1 / analysis*
  • Vitamin K 1 / blood


  • Vitamin K 1