Eye Medicine and Vitamin K Injection for Newborns
Newborn babies routinely get eye medicine and vitamin K shots (injections) soon after
birth. Both prevent serious conditions.
Why do newborns get eye medicine?
Antibiotic eye drops or ointment are placed in a newborn's eyes after birth. This
is to protect babies from getting bacterial eye infections that can occur during birth.
Untreated, these infections can cause serious problems including blindness. The antibiotic
erythromycin is used most often.
The ointment or drops may make a baby's eyes look cloudy. In rare cases, some newborns'
eyes may become red or swollen. This is short-term. The medicine shouldn't be washed
or cleaned out of the eyes.
Why do newborns get vitamin K injections?
Vitamin K is important to blood clotting. Newborn babies normally have low levels
of this vitamin until a few days after birth. The injection prevents vitamin K deficiency
bleeding (hemorrhagic disease of the newborn). Most babies get an injection of vitamin
K in the upper thigh. This may be briefly painful to the baby, but it doesn’t seem
to cause babies any pain afterward. Without the vitamin K injection, babies are about
80 times more likely to have vitamin K deficiency bleeding. This bleeding can lead
to death or serious long-term disability.
If you have concerns about either of these treatments, talk with your baby's healthcare