A FIVE-WEEK-OLD baby is fighting for his life after a brain haemorrhage. His parents had declined a routine vitamin K shot given to all newborns.
The baby presented to Lismore base hospital last week with bleeding on the brain. He was later transferred to Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. If the baby survives, he will likely be severely disabled. The parents have not made comment on their decision not the medical condition of the child. Information released so far is via the Office of the Health Minister.
Why is Vitamin K given?
Vitamin K helps the blood to clot and is considered essential for the prevention of bleeding problems in newborn babies. All babies are born with low levels of vitamin K. This natural deficiency once killed around 15 babies per year in NSW, before routine injections introduced in the 1970s reduced the incidence to near zero.
There have been six recorded deaths from the disease in babies (whose parents refused consent) in the past 20 years, including one in each 2012 and 2013.
A NSW Health study in 2012 also showed over 3000 babies had been denied the shot because their parents refused consent. Of these 5 had been hospitalised but survived.
The Paediatrician's Opinion
Paediatrician Dr Chris Ingall said he had cared for a one-month-old baby that died of haemorrhaging on the brain in 2010. The mother had been told not to give consent and not allowed her child to have the shot.
“One of the hardest things a paediatrician ever has to do is tell a patient their baby is going to die. In this case, the mother had refused the vitamin K injection for her newborn just a few weeks prior,” Dr Ingall says.
Dr Ingall said ‘at least once a week‘ he had to try to convince new parents to give the vitamin K shot. Objection is generally because they had been told it was dangerous or found information online that lead them to decline it.
The Australian Medical Association Stance on the Vitamin K Injection
The Australian Medical Association President Dr Michael Gannon saying it was “utterly ridiculous to decline the Vitamin K Injection. (And urged for it to be added to the national vaccination register…) Perhaps, like vaccination, we need to think about this along the lines of No Jab No Play. This has halved the number of kids not vaccinated. I think we should look at it.”
Political Opinions on the Vitamin K Injection
Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King called on the government to address the misinformation. “I don’t want parents turning to Google and being influenced by misinformed views that could put children at risk. I want them to listen to the experts who know best, and I think the Government should play a more active role in amplifying the correct information to parents.”
A spokesman for Health Minister Greg Hunt said “Vitamin K is a pre-emptive therapy and not an immunisation, therefore it cannot be considered for the National Immunisation Program.”
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