Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Erythromycin & Vitamin K, to Give or Not to Give?

Call me a skeptic, jaded, cynical…I think the medical field is full of unnecessary treatments that are driven more by insurance companies then by what is necessarily in our best interest.  Don’t get me wrong, modern medicine can be and is wonderful when accessed and provided appropriately.  However, somewhere along the line, we’ve turned into a pill popping, there’s a diagnosis for everything culture. 
My point in all of this is that in a few short weeks I will be giving birth to my first child.  Within the first 24 hours of my newly born child’s life, there are a lot of “routine” medical tests and procedures that occur.  Certain obvious things are necessary and make sense to me, such as suctioning the baby’s nostrils out, clamping the cord & cutting it, performing the APGAR testing, vital & weight checks, cleaning up the baby, ect.  However, there are 3 things that I’m not so sure of and have received mixed information on when it comes to “medicine” that is given.  Shortly after my child is born, it is standard procedure to put erythromycin cream in the eyes to treat for any bacteria that may have been transferred from the vagina, especially STDs.  The baby also receives a Vitamin K injection to prevent unexpected bleeding that can be caused by low levels of the vitamin that helps with clotting.  Lastly, the baby is usually given its first dose of the Hepatitis B vaccination on its 2nd day of life. 
I’m one to question everything and my maternal instincts are kicking in.  I want to know re: the 3 mentioned treatments are they truly necessary?  The answers I have received to my questions have varied from OB to midwife to doula to friend to what I’ve read.  I have decided that I will delay the Hepatitis B injection until the first appointment with my pediatrician, which is perfectly normal to do.  However, I’m not sure what to do with the erythromycin or Vitamin K.  My concern is that I do not want give my newborn child treatments that are not necessary, but I also do not want to not give something that could be needed.  Did I mention I don’t trust “standard procedures?”  I know I do not have any STDS and as a result there is a very low risk for any type of damaging bacterial eye infection for my child.  So should I still allow the erythromycin ointment?  I eat LOTS of strawberries which are packed with Vitamin K (I really like them, they’re one of my “cravings”) and am going to breastfeed.   Babies do build up Vitamin K levels with the initial colostrum milk from their mother and in the following weeks.  Is the Vitamin K necessary?
So what do you think?  If you are a parent, what did you do?     


  1. I've heard of this; a lot of people opt for it "just to be safe," but it's really only necessary for people who have had lots of sexual partners and whose babies are at risk for STDs at birth. However, the vitamin K shot can't hurt.

    I am glad my parents didn't put erythromiacin in my eyes when I was born, though, because we found out later that I am deathly allergic to it!

    Also, weakened immune systems (like newborn babiess) are more susceptible to diseases, and some of them have actually gotten the disease from the *treatment*! So definitely be careful with it, whatever you do!

  2. I don't know anything helpful though I am always apprehensive about the overuse of antibiotics. Is this your first baby?
    One piece of advice is not to overthink everything or you are going to go crazy. Most of these decisions will not have earth shattering consequences, you need to be able to relax and enjoy your baby.

  3. As a mother of two kids who were born pre-maturely, I would recommend doing any medical treatments that the doctor suggest. The issues you have now will far be outweighed if the baby gets an infection or complication b/c the meds were not given. JMO!!

  4. Tough question! When I gave birth, no one was really questioning the innoculations newborns were given, so my daughter had everything. I don't know what I would choose to do now, I'd have to give that some thought.

  5. I gave my two daughters (one and three years old) all. I really believe that all these treatments are safe and will be really important to don´t allow diseases, the little ones include.
    I belive in medicine that has increase the number of babies alive after birth, the medium age for die... (my english is not good enough for this kind of phrases, but hope you could understad my opinion)... and have developmen the great medicines that takes me out the headache, the cold,... so I will let them improve more.

  6. I can definately understand you questioning whether or not you should give an unnecessary treatment. I am the type though that is paranoid of the "what ifs" I went with the "just in case" opinion and had all of the treatments done for all of my kiddos.

    I am just one of those paranoid moms that figures that if I didn't get it and then they ended up with some problem b/c I didn't then I would feel bad...that's just me...

  7. Whatever you choose in the end will be the right pick im sure. I cant offer thoughts since I have no children nor do I really have contact with any

  8. Well, it's been so long since my babies were born that things have changed beyond belief.

    Get a Doctor you can trust and who will listen to your concerns.

    You can make yourself crazy with some of these decisions.

    Wishing you and your soon to be born baby the very best of everything.

  9. You will get so many varied opinions everywhere you look. (I have my own too!) But what I suggest is for you to go with your gut feelings and do what YOU feel is the best for you/baby. It is hard being a first time mom and wanting to do the right thing. Us veteran moms know that we made some mistakes but in the long run our kids turned out just fine! You must be getting so excited! Blessings to you and baby!

  10. It's a tough decision, but doctors may give these treatments to everyone for good reason (which is that it probably helps a huge majority of babies). You never know what may happen to your kids - you hope that they'll be healthy and everything will be fine - but if something were to happen that could have been easily prevented, I'm sure any parent would give anything to go back in time to change their decision. Doctors have to go through 4 years of undergrad, 4 years of med school (which already weeds out a large number of applicants), then 3-5 years of residency (which weeds out a few more underperforming med school students), then possibly a few years of fellowship if they decide to specialize even more. I'd say that I trust their judgement to a high degree, although it's great to get multiple opinions from different doctors (MDs, which is the hardest to get).

  11. you have to do what's right for you and your baby, which is different for each family. Congratulations and I hope you have a safe and wonderful delivery!

  12. unforutanately I dont have children. i did just become an aunt to a 7 week old neice and a 10 week old nephew. My neice was in the NICU for 3 days because my sister spiked a fever and they gave Breanna 3 days of antibiotics just to be sure. It was scary.

    I know both had the antibiotic eye cream put on, even though Ian was born via c-section, which doesn't make sense.

    It seems like doctors just follow a protocol instead of using their brains and training sometimes.

    You are in a very hard position. I wish you all the best in your labor and delivery and a happy healthy baby!!!

  13. I wanted to add that I asked about the possibility of a baby being allergic to erythromiacin (from terra's post) because I was curious (and I know many doctors). Apparently, an allergy reaction is your immune system thinking that something in your body is bad and decides to attack it. Newborns don't have an immune system, they develop it after they're born and get a boost from nursing (because they get some of the antibodies from their mother through milk) then slowly develop it on their own through contact with the surrounding environment. So it's not possible for a newborn to be allergic to erythromiacin or anything else that's given. Well, that's a relief :)