Vitamin K comes mainly from leafy green vegetables and from the good bacteria in our intestines. However at birth, a baby has very little vitamin K in its intestines. Also, during pregnancy vitamin K is not easily transferring to the newborn.
According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, "vitamin K is a vital nutrient that our body needs for blood to clot and stop bleeding," and "vitamin K deficiency bleeding or VKDB, is a condition that occurs when the baby does not have enough vitamin K."
About half of all babies with vitamin K deficiency bleeding will bleed into their brains. In order to combat a vitamin K deficiency in newborns, newborns can receive a vitamin K shot after birth but it is also crucial for expectant mothers to monitor their vitamin K intake during pregnancy.
Breast milk contains vitamin K not enough to prevent VKDB. If you are breastfeeding, newborns generally do not have enough vitamin K in their systems until they start eating foods.
There may be no warning signs in cases of infant VKDB. According to the CDC, the following are potential signs of VKDB among newborns:
• Yellow eyes after the baby is 3 weeks old
• Easy bruising, especially around the baby’s head and face
• Bleeding from the nose or umbilical cord
• Paler than usual skin color
• In dark-skinned babies, gums may appear pale
• Blood in the stool or black tarry stool
• Irritability, seizures, excessive sleepiness
• A lot of vomiting as well as vomiting of blood
For pregnant mothers it is important to eat foods high in vitamin K. Foods rich in this nutrient include the following:
• Green tea
• Swiss chard
• Brussels sprouts
• Soybean oil
• Wheat bran
• Fermented yogurt and cheeses
• Fermented soy like miso and natto
It is important to note that high doses of vitamin K can cause jaundice in newborn babies, as well as tingling or numbness in the legs, hands, arms, or feet of a pregnant mother. Also, you should never take a vitamin K supplement if you are taking an anticoagulant prescription.