The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends intramuscular (IM) vitamin K prophylaxis for all newborns to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding. Given the serious implications of late-onset vitamin K deficiency bleeding, our objective was to examine factors influencing parents’ decisions to refuse IM vitamin K prophylaxis.
Parents intending to refuse IM vitamin K prophylaxis at delivery were recruited from 5 community hospitals, 1 academic medical center, and 2 birthing centers in a single Southeastern state. Participants completed a written survey including demographics, birth and parenting decisions (eg, breastfeeding), and open-ended questions about their vitamin K information sources, concerns, and knowledge of risks.
The incidence of refusal was highest at the birthing centers. Fifty-four parents intending to refuse IM vitamin K completed the survey. Most were white (78%), over age 30 (57%), and college graduates (65%). All reported intention to exclusively breastfeed. Most refused hepatitis B vaccine (90%) and erythromycin eye ointment (77%). The most common source of information was the Internet (70%). Concerns included synthetic or toxic ingredients (37%), excessive dose (28%), and side effects (24%). Eighty-three percent of parents reported awareness of risks associated with vitamin K refusal. However, only 6 parents (11%) decided to accept IM prophylaxis.
This study provides an understanding of the concerns, mindset, and information sources used by parents refusing IM vitamin K. Educating parents about the importance of IM prophylaxis should begin in the prenatal period and must address concerns parents identify on the Internet.