Babies need Vitamin K shots when they’re born to help their blood clot and prevent life-threatening internal bleeding. It’s not a matter of scientific debate. It’s just a standard part of newborn care.
But in recent years, there’s been an uptick in parents who say no to the shot for reasons that range from religion to other forms of irrationality. In many cases, they’re the same arguments we hear when parents reject safe vaccines.
Dr. Ben Wheeler of the University of Otago in New Zealand has just published the first in-depth look at what motivates parents who decline the Vitamin K shot for their newborns…
“We believe God created us and knew what he was doing,” is one reason Wheeler heard from parents. Others included: “If baby really needed more Vitamin K, they’d get it from me,” and “For us, the risks from Vitamin K were higher because he was such a normal, easy birth.”
“That highlights the false perception among some that if things are natural and easy, that’s a protective factor in some way,” Wheeler said.
Some parents don’t want their babies to suffer the pain of the shot, said Dr. Kristi Watterberg, chair of the Committee on Fetus and Newborn of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some worry about what is in the shot, she said, and some have heard about an old study linking Vitamin K shots to leukemia that has since been refuted.
It’s incredible that these parents say no to the Vitamin K shot because they don’t want their child to suffer… even though the consequence of not getting the Vitamin K shot is that their child may actually suffer. If they wanted to help their babies, they would listen to scientific experts, not the first conspiracy theory they find on Google.
Goldberg points out that only New York mandates the shot; everywhere else, it’s just highly recommended. But again, the people who know what they’re talking about say this is a no-brainer. It’s this disdain for knowledge, as if parental instinct should always override medical expertise, that’s part of the problem.
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