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Vitamin K in pregnancy and breastfeeding 

Vitamin K in pregnancy and breastfeeding
Chapter:
Vitamin K in pregnancy and breastfeeding
Author(s):

Sir Peter Gluckman

, Mark Hanson

, Chong Yap Seng

, and Anne Bardsley

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198722700.003.0016
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date: 21 October 2019

Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting, and lack of this nutrient results in a hypocoagulable state, associated with a high risk of bleeding events. Deficiency is rare among adults, because vitamin K is widely available in foods. However, the placenta transmits vitamin K relatively poorly, leading to a general deficiency in full-term neonates, who are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of low vitamin K levels because of their immature clotting systems. Deficiency can lead to intracranial haemorrhage following birth trauma, or classic vitamin K deficiency bleeding. It is important to maintain adequate vitamin K status throughout pregnancy in order to avoid added risk to the neonate at birth and in the first few weeks of life. Supplementation of newborns by intramuscular injection should be universal.

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