Vitamin K is the element that the body needs for proper blood clotting. In humans, the bacteria lining the intestines produce Vitamin K. However, in the immature digestive tract of a newborn, this vitamin K producing flora is absent, which raises the risk of hemorrhagic disease in newborn infants.
This is the reason that new born babies in the United States and many other western nations are routinely injected with the vitamin K shot.
Experts are now questioning the necessity of giving a new born infant this jab. It is their view that the vitamin K itself is required since babies are born with insufficient quantities of the vital vitamin.
However, the method of administering it, i.e. by giving the nesonate an injection, is being called into question. Experts demand that safer, less invasive and less painful methods of administering the vitamin K be adopted.
Though hemorrhagic disease in newborns is rare, risk factors are known to increase if it was a preterm delivery or the baby had low birth weight.
A C section, a vacuum extraction or forceps delivery also increases risk. If a mother was on certain medications during pregnancy, the risk increases. Undetected liver disease could increase risk, as can an unusually long or short labor.