Haemorrhagic disease of the newborn: a review of 127 cases

Ann Trop Paediatr. 1993;13(4):331-6; discussion 337-8. doi: 10.1080/02724936.1993.11747666.


A review of 127 infants with haemorrhagic disease of the newborn (HDN) is presented. The case definition of HDN used in the selection of patients was bleeding during the 1st week of life in a newborn with normal platelet count, normal peripheral blood smear and complete clinical response to parenteral vitamin K. Equivocal cases with respect to cause of bleeding were excluded. The eligible cases consisted of 0.9% of all admissions to the unit and the male:female ratio was 1.8:1. Most were from families of low economic status and poor educational background. Omission of vitamin K prophylaxis and exclusive breastfeeding were the commonest antecedents. The mean (SE) gestation and admission weight were 39.3 (0.2) weeks and 2981 (78) g, respectively. One hundred and two (80.3%) had classical HDN with a mean (SE) age at onset of 63 (4.4) hours. Gastro-intestinal bleeding was the commonest observation. Thirty-three infants (26%) died, most of them from exsanguination. There is a need for well designed work to determine the magnitude of the problem, including that of late-onset HDN, the antecedent risk factors, the preferred route for administering prophylactic vitamin K and a clear policy guideline on prevention of the disease.

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Breast Feeding
  • Educational Status
  • Ethiopia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vitamin K / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding / complications
  • Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding / epidemiology*
  • Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding / prevention & control


  • Vitamin K