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Before 1961, 1 to 1.5% of all babies born would, within the first week of their lives, experience bleeding from the nose or umbilical cord. It wasn’t great, but it also wasn’t fatal.
A smaller percentage, approximately 10 out of 100,000 babies, would experience later bleeding in the brain. Of those, 20% died and 50% were left with long-term brain damage.
Both of these bleeding issues were caused by a Vitamin K deficiency. In 1961, doctors started giving newborns intramuscular shots. This reduced the total number of babies with Vitamin K deficiency bleeding to approximately 0. There were only a few rare cases in babies with particular underlying diseases.
So in 1960, there were about 4 million babies born in the US, which means 300 to 400 babies got brain hemorrhages that year and so 60-80 babies died. Today approximately zero babies in the US die from Vitamin K deficiency thanks to one simple shot.
I know about this thanks to Dr. Clay Jones, who was on this past week’s Inquiring Minds podcast. He was talking about the subject because alarmingly, anti-vaccine fear mongers are encouraging parents to instruct doctors to not give their babies the shot. They believe the shot is unnatural, that it’s unnecessary, and that it’s painful. They also believe it causes leukemia thanks to one poorly done and since debunked study from the ‘90s.
In reality, there are no side effects to the shot aside from minor bruising around the injection. Doctors could avoid this by giving the Vitamin K as an oral dose, but studies show the oral dose is much less effective than the intramuscular because it may not properly absorb. It can be vomited up, other medicines could interfere with it, or parents can simply forget to give the baby the daily pill.
Dr. Jones points out that there was a recent rash of 7 cases of Vitamin K-deficient bleeding in newborns at one hospital. Of those, 4 were hemorrhaging in the brain, two of which required neurosurgery, and another baby had bleeding from the intestines. None of the kids died, but the worst cases will face serious seizures and developmental delays.
That’s bad enough, but how long before babies begin dying again for lack of a safe, easy shot they can get before they even leave the hospital? Once again we see the serious consequences that anti-science propaganda can have on the most innocent of people.