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Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB)

Extracted from Myles Textbook for Midwives 15th Edition. Diane M. Fraser, Margaret A. Cooper (Eds). London; Churchill Livingstone: 2009. Courtesy Elsevier.

Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB), previously known as haemorrhagic disease of the newborn, most commonly occurs between birth and 8 weeks of life, although it may occur up to 12 months. Several proteins - factor III (prothrombosis), factor VII (proconvertin), factor IX (plasma thromboplastin component), factor X (thrombokinase) and proteins C and S, require vitamin K for their conversion to active clotting factors. Vitamin K is poorly transferred across the placenta, and any stores are quickly depleted after birth. As VKDB is potentially fatal, prophylactic administration of vitamin K is recommended for all newborn babies, either by a single intramuscular injection at birth or, for healthy babies who are not at particular risk of bleeding disorders, orally. Care must be taken to ensure that the appropriate regimen is followed.

Further reading

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. British National Formulary for Children: Viitamin K. Available at:

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