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3 Immunizations Essential for Your Newborn's Health
Hi, I’m Dr. Emily Bendlin, a pediatrician at Methodist Physicians Clinic Hawthorne Court. I get to work with families, kids and babies every single day.
I recently had my first baby – isn’t he cute!!!!
When he was delivered at Methodist Women’s Hospital a few months ago, right after delivery, I was given the option of three important medications I knew were essential to his health.
Today, I wanted to talk to you about those medications, and just why we here at Methodist recommend that you consider them for your child.
The first is a Vitamin K injection.
All babies are born with very low levels of Vitamin K, which is essential in blood clotting. While babies can produce some Vitamin K, it’s simply not enough.
Giving newborns injectable Vitamin K at birth immediately gives them enough Vitamin K to prevent their risk of a problem called Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding – or VKDB. VKDB is a clotting disorder that causes spontaneous bleeding. It is often internal and can cause brain damage or even death.
A Vitamin K injection at birth will prevent VKDB for six months – when they are old enough to eat foods which can provide enough daily Vitamin K to prevent this spontaneous bleeding.
Now, some parents ask about oral Vitamin K medication instead of an injection. There is an oral option, but your baby will need more than one dose. Talk with the hospital and your child’s health care provider about options for oral vitamin K.
The next medication is also an injection. It’s the Hepatitis B Vaccine.
The Hepatitis B vaccine is a series of vaccines given to prevent a virus that can cause serious liver disease. Illness from Hepatitis B can either last a few weeks, or lead to a life-long chronic illness that can lead to liver damage, liver cancer and even death.
The first dose of this vaccine is given right after birth. That’s essential to prevent accidental exposure to Hepatitis B at birth. Other doses of the vaccine will be given at your baby’s follow-up appointments with their pediatrician.
The final medication you will be asked about following delivery of your baby isn’t an injection. It’s an antibacterial eye ointment known as Erythromycin.
Your baby could contract an eye infection as it passes through the birth canal. Eye diseases as a result of these infections can cause blindness. Erythromycin eye drops placed in the baby’s eyes can help prevent infection.
While all medications have risks, you should know that the risks and side effects for all three of these medications is extremely low. Allergic reactions to Vitamin K are rare, and the biggest risk with the Hepatitis B vaccine is pain or redness at the injection site.
Here at Methodist, we take the health and safety of your baby very seriously. While vaccinating your infant is a decision you should make based on your beliefs, we recommend you consider these medications be given to your newborn following delivery to prevent harmful illness.
As a pediatrician, I get a lot of comfort knowing my little guy – and your new little ones – are safe.
As always, if you have any questions about vaccinations, talk with your child’s Methodist Physicians Clinic primary care provider.