Vitamin K helps blood to clot. Administering vitamin K soon after birth prevents serious bleeding in infants. By the age of around 6 months, infants have built up their own supply of vitamin K. An NHMRC joint statement recommends that all newborn infants receive vitamin K. 

Vitamin K helps blood to clot and is essential in preventing serious bleeding in infants. Vitamin K deficiency bleeding can be prevented by the administration of vitamin K soon after birth. By the age of approximately six months, infants have built up their own supply of vitamin K.

Update of the recommendations on vitamin K administration to newborn infants

The 2010 NHMRC Joint statement and recommendations on vitamin K administration to newborn infants to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding in infancy (Joint Statement) recommends that all newborn infants should receive vitamin K prophylaxis. The Joint Statement also provides recommendations on the dosage and method of administration of vitamin K.

Updating the Joint Statement falls under NHMRC’s strategic priority of ‘supporting the translation of health and medical research into clinical practice, policy and health systems’. Under this stream, two key activities identified in the Corporate Plan 2017-18 are relevant to this work:

2.2. Provide national leadership in promoting translation of knowledge created through research into clinical practice, health policy, health services and systems and public health and expand Australia’s capabilities in research translation, and

2.3. Maintain a leadership role in the development of public and environmental health and clinical advice designed to prevent illness, improve health, enhance clinical care and support the states and territories in achieving consistent standards.

The update of the Joint Statement is expected to be completed in mid-2019.

Delay in guideline update

The update of the Joint Statement, which will be reformatted as a guideline, is envisaged to be completed in early 2020. The update has been delayed while further evidence reports are being prepared. 

In the interim, the 2010 Joint Statement is still current, with the Working Committee continuing to support its recommendations. To date, the Working Committee has not received any evidence that would change current practice on the administration of vitamin K to infants to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding.

The Working Committee’s Terms of Reference will be extended another 12-18 months to complete the update of the 2010 Joint Statement and accompanying brochure for parents.