The disadvantage of these drops is that some children do not absorb them well, and can therefore still develop a vitamin K deficiency. In 2017, the Health Council therefore advised to use an injection from now on. This injection is already being used successfully in other countries.
For the first three months after birth, babies cannot properly produce vitamin K on their own. Breastfeeding also contains little vitamin K. Babies need this vitamin to make their blood clot: a deficiency can cause bleeding. As a result, a child can become disabled for life.
Following the advice of the Health Council, RIVM has drawn up a plan to regulate the vitamin injection. The plan states that midwives can give the injection shortly after birth. It is an injection in the thigh of a baby.
First shot next year
The Ministry of Health has now approved that plan. It will take some time before the injections will be used: the first injection is expected to be given in the middle of next year.
The Health Council wrote in the advice that children who are bottle-fed do not need an injection, because that food already contains enough vitamin K.
According to the ministry, it is difficult to make that distinction, because some parents are not immediately sure whether they are going to bottle-feed or breast-feed. That is why every newborn baby will in principle receive an injection from next year. If the parents prefer not to have an injection, drops can still be used.
What is Vitamin K?
Vitamin K, also called phyloquinone, ensures good blood clotting. The substance may also play a role in the formation of bones. Vitamin K is found in vegetables, fruit, dairy products, meat, eggs and grains, and is produced by bacteria in your gut.
During pregnancy, the mother cannot pass on vitamin K to her baby. As a result, a newborn child has not yet built up a stock. In addition, the baby still has too few intestinal bacteria to make enough vitamin K itself.
By administering the vitamin, serious (brain) bleeding can be prevented. Deficiency is rare in adults.