What shots will my newborn receive in the hospital?
Usually, babies receive a Vitamin K shot. Newborns can develop a rare but serious and possibly fatal condition called Hemorrhagic Disease or Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB) due to low levels of Vitamin K. This condition can occur between birth to 12 weeks of age. Vitamin K promotes blood clotting which reduces the risk of this condition. An oral version of Vitamin K may be available at your hospital. Also, you may not be notified or asked to give consent prior to your baby receiving this shot. Anyone can call the newborn nursery at the hospital where they will be delivering and ask if Vitamin K is routinely given and if there are any alternatives.
Newborns also may receive a Hepatitis B vaccination. This vaccine is given to prevent infection of the Hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B is spread through the contact of infected blood and bodily fluids. Some parents feel that there is not a high enough risk of their baby contracting this virus and opt out of this vaccination. However, a mother infected with Hepatitis B can give it to her newborn during the birth process. Each state has a list of required vaccines. This vaccine is usually included in the list of vaccines that children must receive before entering school. There are also options to opt out of this and other vaccines.
Your baby will also receive a newborn screening test. Your baby’s heel will be pricked and a small amount of blood drawn. This sample will be tested for several different types of inherited disorders and conditions. The most common disorders tested are Phenylketonuria (PKU), Sickle Cell Anemia, and Cystic Fibrosis. There are over 50 different tests available. Even if there is not a family history of these disorders and/or you have other healthy children, this test is very important. All states require newborn screening, however, not all states test for the same disorders. A comprehensive list by state is available at the National Newborn Screening and Genetics Resource Center web site. If your hospital does not offer all of the recommended tests, you can have your own supplemental testing done. For more information on supplemental testing, go to www.savebabies.org.
As with all medications and vaccines, be educated. Know the benefits and risks before you go to the hospital.