There is a strong anti-vaccine movement coursing across the United States. This movement is based on the concern that vaccines may cause autism, ADHD, and other illnesses. That theory has been thoroughly debunked and there are no scientific studies that prove vaccines cause babies to develop any of these ailments, but anti-vaxxers continue to spread this misinformation anyway. Many anti-vaxxers have taken their stance a step further and are now choosing to opt out of giving their babies the post-birth vitamin K shot. Two mothers who made that decision have chosen to share their stories in hopes of protecting other families from the pain and heartbreak they are now experiencing.
The first mother is named Krista Deary. When her baby, Judah, was born she chose not to allow him to have the vitamin K shot. Judah was healthy, and her five other children who had not been given the shot were all happy and healthy as well. Deary considered her options and did not feel the shot was necessary, but she later regretted her decision. When Judah was around one month old he stopped breathing and started having seizures. At the emergency room, Ms. Deary learned that her baby had suffered two brain hemorrhages. The hospital staff told her the hemorrhages most likely would not have occurred if he had received the vitamin K shot.
It has been three years since Judah was born, and even now he still cannot walk or crawl. He cannot even sit up on his own. He has been diagnosed with hydrocephalus, which is a buildup of fluid in his brain, as well as cerebral palsy. He will struggle for the rest of his life.
The second mother, Stephani Leavitt, has a similar story. When her daughter, Olive, was born she decided not to give her the vitamin K shot. Like Judah, Olive was only one month old when she suffered a severe brain bleed that ended up causing her to have a stroke. Olive received surgery to repair the bleed, but all of this could have been avoided if she had simply been given the vitamin K shot.
The CDC says that vitamin K is essential for the blood to clot appropriately. Most adults consume their vitamin K through the foods they eat, and their natural intestinal bacteria creates the rest. Babies are born with very little vitamin K, which is why they need the shot to supplement their bodies’ supply. Without this shot they can experience serious hemorrhaging, like Judah and Olive.
Nursing professor, Rebecca Dekker, added her voice to the growing vitamin K conversation by saying, “This seemed to be an issue that a lot of mothers were struggling with, and there was a lot of confusion surrounding this topic.” After doing extensive research for the website Evidence Based Birth, she was surprised to find that “vitamin K was so effective at essentially eliminating the risk of newborn bleeding.”
Now that Leavitt and Deary have more knowledge on this subject, they are speaking out. Leavitt says “I can’t change what happened to Olive, but I can try to prevent it from happening to another baby.” Deary commented on her experience as well, “The information I was given caused me to fear the shot greatly. Now that I know more, I’m no longer scared of it. I see it as a blessing.” Deary is currently pregnant again, and she says “Our seventh baby will definitely be receiving it.”