New campaign to bust myth vitamin K is an immunisation

Vitamin K is given to newborn babies to prevent a deadly disease.
Vitamin K is given to newborn babies to prevent a deadly disease. Sonar512

A NEW health initiative aims to tackle an ongoing problem where some Northern Rivers mothers are rejecting an essential vitamin K injection for their newborns, a Lismore paediatrician has revealed.

It comes after after a five-week-old baby boy suffering a serious brain bleed was rushed from Lismore Base Hospital to Brisbane Lady Cilento Children's Hospital after his parents declined the routine injection for their infant late last month.

The vitamin K injection is given to newborns immediately after birth to ensure the blood clots properly and protects against haemorrhagic disease of the newborn (HDN), which can cause serious brain bleeds.

Lismore paediatrician Chris Ingall is involved with the up-coming initiative.

It aims to better educate expectant mothers about vitamin K injections at various stages of pregnancy and within the first month of a newborn's life.

"We don't want any other babies to suffer like this one," Dr Ingall said.


Our Kids Winter Ball, Dr Chris Ingall (Founder of Our Kids) and Cath Ingall.
Photo Contributed The New Camera House
Our Kids Winter Ball, Dr Chris Ingall (Founder of Our Kids) and Cath Ingall. Photo Contributed The New Camera House Contributed

He estimated up to 20% of expectant mothers who attend Lismore Base Hospital believe vitamin K is not safe for their babies.

Still in its early planning stages, Dr Ingall envisioned the cohesive program to "link federal and state health systems" by working with various medical experts, from Lismore Base Hospital staff, GPs to early child care nurses.

In the coming weeks, Dr Ingall hopes to engage the North Coast Primary Health Network to join hospital staff in rolling out the program.

Fellow paediatrician Ian Lennon has practised in Lismore for about 20 years.

In that time, Dr Lennon said at least four babies have died from HDN, all had not had the Vitamin K shot.

He said most children die from the disease and if they survive, they are left with a degree of disability.

Dr Lennon outlined one of the biggest myths held by some mothers about the vitamin injections is the idea it has links with immunisations.

"There's that misconception that vitamin K is an immunisation - that is one of the biggest problems," Dr Lennon said.

The Northern NSW Local Health District's clinical midwifery consultant Catherine Adams said the misconception was common among those "conscientious objectors" who declined the injection across the five midwifery units.

Ms Adams said initial decline of the injection always came with another round of discussions with the parents to try and support mothers in making informed, medically-proven choices.

She said about 95% of mothers consented to the injection for their babies throughout the district.   

Topics:  editors picks lismore base hospital midwives mothers northern rivers health

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