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Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding: A Case Study

Woods, Christopher W. MSN, RN, NNP-BC; Woods, Amanda G. MSN, RN, NNP-BC; Cederholm, Carmen K. BSN, RN

Section Editor(s): Heaberlin, Pamela

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000026
Case of the Month

Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB), formerly known as hemorrhagic disease of the newborn (HDN), is a bleeding disorder in neonates that is caused by inadequate serum levels of vitamin K. Vitamin K is a nutrient essential for adequate function of the coagulation cascade. Certain internal and external factors place newborn infants at higher risk for VKDB. Therefore, vitamin K prophylaxis has become the standard of care for newborns. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the administration of vitamin K to newborns, some parents are choosing to withhold vitamin K administration at birth. This case study describes an infant who developed VKDB in the absence of vitamin K prophylaxis. Although parents ultimately have the right to choose whether or not to administer vitamin K, as healthcare professionals, it is important to provide education regarding the potential complications of withholding vitamin K and the signs of VKDB if vitamin K prophylaxis at birth is withheld.

Wake Forest Baptist Health (Mr Woods) and Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center (Ms Woods), Winston Salem, and Alamance Regional Medical Center, Burlington, North Carolina (Mrs Cederholm).

Correspondence: Christopher W. Woods, MSN, RN, NNP-BC, Wake Forest Baptist Health, Brenner Children's Hospital, Winston-Salem, NC 27157 (

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2013 by The National Association of Neonatal Nurses