Does my baby need these treatments?

Shortly after your baby is born, he’ll recieve his first vaccine and medications, but wait – does he need them? Read on for the facts on the vitamin K injection, antibiotic eye drops and Hepatitis B vaccine for newborns.

Q. Vitamin K injection?

A. Yes, it is recommended that your baby recieves this treatment.

Vitamin K plays an important part in making our blood clot. But compared to adults, babies are born with lower levels. This is usually because vitamin K doesn’t cross the placenta well and breast milk doesn’t contain large amounts either.
While most babies will have enough to stop bleeding should an accident occur, a very small percentage do not have enough vitamin K to prevent internal bleeding problems. As a result, this can put your baby at risk of Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB).
While VKDB is rare, it’s often difficult to tell which babies are most at risk to its dangers. UK health experts recommend that all babies are offered an injection or, if you prefer, oral doses, however these are less effective.

Read more about breastfeeding

Q. Antibiotic eye drops?

A. With low risks and extensive benefits, your baby should probably have this treatment.

Your birth canal isn’t sterile, and sometimes amniotic fluid isn’t either, so there’s plenty of bacteria around to give your baby an eye infection (conjunctivitis) or worse, cause blindness. For this reason, all babies should be given antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection.
Some experts say that if you have good prenatal care and are free of infection, your baby doesn’t need the treatment, but mums who do have infections may not have symptoms or even know they’re sick. Research finds that babies treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointments have lower rates of all kinds of newborn eye infections, and the protective effects of the treatment will last several months.

Q. Hepatitis B vaccine?

A. This vaccine is safe, effective and will protect your baby.

This vaccine protects against the hepatitis B virus which can be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy. You, or your baby, might not experience any symptoms or feel ill, but any babies born to infected mothers will have an increased chance of becoming a carrier and developing liver disease later in life. Furthermore, chronic infection is more common among infants and children, so immunisation is offered shortly after birth and at one, two and twelve months old. At this one year milestone, your baby should be tested to check that immunisation has been successful. 

Read more about childhood immunisations

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