From the July 1999 Idaho Observer:


National standard mandates newborn vitamin K injection

Ignorance becomes tacit consent for the questionable neonatal procedure

by Don Harkins

In cooperation with a “national standard,” most, if not all states have mandated that U.S. hospitals routinely administer to all newborns a synthetic, fat-soluble vitamin K injection (generic name phytonadione) that exceeds an infant's recommended daily dietary intake of the vitamin by 100 times.

Peer reviewed journals have linked large doses of vitamin K to childhood cancers and leukemia. Animal studies have linked large doses of vitamin K to a variety of conditions that include anemia, liver damage, kidney damage and death.

“Little is known about the metabolic fate of vitamin K. Almost no unmetabolized vitamin K appears in bile or urine,” states both the 1988 and 1998 Physician's Desk Reference (PDR).

“This is especially important due to the fact that it is a fat-soluble vitamin and therefore can accumulate in the body,” wrote Vitamin K Resources (VKR) in the extremely well-documented and footnoted 1999 article, Intramuscular Vitamin K Injection: Is K OK?

In the 1988 PDR, Merck's literature states that “A single intramuscular dose of AquaMEPHYTON (Merck brand vitamin K injection) 0.5 to 1 mg within one hour of birth is recommended.”

Merck's 1998 PDR entry for AquaMEPHYTON has removed adverse reaction liability from the pharmaceutical giant by stating, “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that Vitamin K1 be given to the newborn.”

Vitamin K injections are ostensibly administered to newborns to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding (such as hemophilia) that may occur in approximately 1 in 10,000 live births. “This figure would probably be much lower if high risk newborns were excluded [from this figure],” wrote VKR.

Parents who wish to refuse the shot must do so in writing prior to the birth of their baby. Parental ignorance of the state-mandated injection is considered by hospitals as tacit consent authorizing them to administer the potentially damaging synthetic vitamin dose to newborns.

Five post partem nurses from hospitals in Idaho, Washington and Oregon stated that they “routinely administer vitamin K injections to newborns,” as if all of them were reading from the same script. According to a seasoned Sacred Heart Medical Center (Spokane, WA) Birthplace nurse named Terri, “Routine vitamin K injections are in cooperation with the federal standard.”

She also said that Washington hospitals are mandated by state code to provide the injections to all newborns. Terri acknowledged that parents who wish to refuse the shot must present the refusal to the hospital in writing before the baby is born.

Scientists question intelligence of universal IM vitamin K injections

Dr. Louise Parker was quoted in the British Medical Journal in 1998 as stating, “It is not possible, on the basis of currently published evidence, to refute the suggestion that neonatal IM vitamin K administration increases the risk of early childhood leukemia.”

The British Journal of Cancer published “Factors associated with childhood cancer” by J. Golding, et al, in 1990. The report indicated that universally administered IM vitamin K injections significantly increase our children's chances of developing childhood cancer.

A follow-up study published two years later in the British Medical Journal reinforced the findings of the previous study. The authors' comments, in keeping with scientific style, are conservatively stated, but parents who are concerned about the health of their babies will read “danger” between the following lines: “The only two studies so far to have examined the relation between childhood cancer and intramuscular vitamin K have shown similar results and the relation is biologically plausible. The prophylactic benefits against haemorrhagic disease are unlikely to exceed the potential adverse effects from intramuscular vitamin K...”

Both studies recommend that policies should be adopted to administer IM vitamin K injections only to high risk babies. Babies who have been identified as being at risk for vitamin K deficiency include those born to mothers who took drugs or antibiotics during pregnancy, premature babies and babies who are born cesarean. Mothers who had maternity diets low in high vitamin K foods or had diets that were low in fat have also been identified as being more likely to bear vitamin K deficient babies.

Naturopathic physicians and others who successfully adhere to a more natural approach to healthcare advocate that high-risk mothers should increase the amount of vitamin K available to the fetus during pregnancy by eating adequate amounts of green leafy vegetables. It is also recommended that mothers continue to eat vitamin K rich foods after giving birth so that their infants will receive the natural form of the vital vitamin through their breast milk.

As early as April 17, 1977, an article in one of the world's most esteemed medical journals, the Lancet, discredited the policy of routine vitamin K injections. “We conclude that healthy babies, contrary to current beliefs, are not likely to have a vitamin K deficiency....the administration of vitamin K is not supported by our findings...” Van Doorm, et al stated in the Lancet article.

VKR cited 21 peer-reviewed reports that had been published in prominent medical journals. All of them concur that policies which mandate the universal injection of newborn babies are not based in sound science.

There has been much peer-reviewed evidence generated which questions the efficacy of routine vitamin K injections as sound public health policy. Why, then, since publication of the July, 1987 article in Pediatrics “Health codes for newborns” when it was stated that only five states required hospitals to administer neonatal vitamin K injections, are they now mandated by most, if not all states?

Commonsensically, VKR poses the question, “...how could God (or nature) have erred so badly as to give all newborn babies only an infinitesimal fraction of their required vitamin K? Surely the human race could not have survived to this point if all newborns were born with this deficiency and none being administered at birth until very recently.”

Although there seems to be no evidence to support universal IM vitamin K injections among the newborn from a public health standpoint, the medical establishment, as informed by the Food and Drug Administration, the AAP and as supplied by the pharmaceutical companies such as Merck, Roche Laboratories and Abbott Laboratories, continues to endorse state mandated, routine IM vitamin K injections.

Eye of newt, spleen of bat?

The body most readily utilizes vitamins and minerals that are found in plants. The body less readily utilizes synthetic vitamins and minerals. The vitamin K administered by hospitals to newborns is the synthetic phytonadione. The natural forms of vitamin K that are found in many foods, particularly in vegetables such as collard greens, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts and salad greens, are called phylloquinone or menaquinone. Certain bacteria in the intestinal tract also produce menaquinones.

The vitamin K injections administered by hospitals and manufactured by Merck and Roche and Abbott are not only synthetic but, according to the packet inserts and the PDR, contain benzyl alcohol as a preservative.

The 1989 PDR states that, “there is no evidence to suggest that the small amount of benzyl alcohol contained in AquaMEPHYTON (Merck's vitamin K injection product), when used as recommended, is associated with toxicity.”

Interestingly, in November, 1988, the French medical journal Dev Pharmacol Ther published a paper regarding benzyl alcohol metabolism and elimination in babies. The report stated that “...we cannot directly answer the issue of safety of 'low doses' of benzyl alcohol as found in some medications administered to neonates. This study confirms the immaturity of the benzoic acid detoxification process in premature newborns.”

The 1998 PDR still states, contrary to the published findings of French scientists in 1988, “there is no evidence to suggest that...”

There has been little reason to study the toxicological effects of benzyl alcohol over the last decade since state legislators have provided synthetic vitamin K manufacturers with the guaranteed marketplace of nearly every child born in a U.S. hospital.

Vitamin K injections manufactured as recently as 1995 contain hydrochloric acid “for pH adjustment.”

Roche's vitamin K product KONAKION contains ingredients such as phenol (carbolic acid -- a poisonous substance distilled from coal tar), propylene glycol (derived from petroleum and used as an antifreeze and in hydraulic brake fluid) and acetic acid (an astringent antimicrobial agent that may drastically reduce the amount of natural vitamin K that would have otherwise been produced in the digestive tract).

As reported in the PDR and as published in the IM vitamin K packet inserts for Merck, Roche and Abbott, “Studies of carcinogenicity, mutagenesis or impairment of fertility have not been conducted with Vitamin K1 Injection (Phytonadione Injection, USP).”

The purpose of this article is to alert expectant parents that their ignorance of federally-suggested, state mandated hospital policy is enough assent to authorize health care professionals to administer what may be a lethal or damaging overdose of a synthetic substance that comes with the following warning from the manufacturers: “Severe reactions, including fatalities, have occurred during and immediately after INTRAVENOUS injection of phytonadione even when precautions have been taken to dilute the vitamin and avoid rapid infusion...”

Please pass the preceeding information onto anybody you know who is expecting a baby. Afterall, we have the right to know what substances are being injected into our babies within the first hour of their lives. If we feel that a substance may be injurious to our baby, we have the right to refuse it.