Stefani, who writes the blog C'est Si Bon, gave birth to a lovely baby girl, Olive, on January 13, 2014. On February 14, 2014, Olive was rushed to the hospital where she was found to have a dangerously low core body temperature. She was then transported by ambulance to a hospital having more advanced pediatric capabilities. They weren't yet sure was was making Olive so ill.
The pediatric intensivist, Dr. Mellema, came and asked me if we had given our daughter a Vitamin K shot at birth, and I just stared at him and said I had no idea. He said they needed to bring her in for a CT scan, but every time they tried to place an IV (which she needed before she went for the scan), the vein would blow. She was bleeding from every spot that she had gotten poked that night, including the LP point on her spine.
After the CT scan, Stefani and her husband received the bad news:
Where the left side of her brain was supposed to be, there was a huge (16 mm, to be exact) mass of blood, pushing her entire brain off center.....Dr. Mellema explain that a clot had developed which was placing immense pressure on Olive’s brain. Not only that, but there was bleeding on the back of the right side of her brain as well. The water pockets that are within the brain were completely destroyed, and the tissue on the left side of the brain looked mostly damaged. He said that the lack of Vitamin K in Olive’s system resulted in her body’s inability to clot. Anything as small as putting her down in her bed could have caused this bleed. Since she couldn’t clot, the bleeding didn’t stop. There had been one other case of this that the doctor had seen – I asked what had happened then, and was told that the baby hadn’t lived. We were told that in the small chance that she did survive, Olive would most likely suffer from severe brain damage.
Intensive Vitamin K therapy was started, and Olive was able to have brain surgery later that night.
Olive spent the next two weeks in the hospital.
Olive’s discharge paperwork listed the following diagnoses:
Hemorrhagic Disease Of The Newborn Due to Vitamin K Deficiency, Subdural Hematoma, Acute Respiratory Failure, Increased Intercranial Pressure, Ischemic Brain Damage, Seizure, Cerebral Infarction of the Left Hemisphere, and Cholestatic Jaundice
There will still be struggles from here, I’m sure. We are uncertain of what Olive’s future will bring, or what challenges this brain injury will cause.
Why did Olive suffer a catastrophic brain bleed? It was mostly accidental. Olive's mother wrote,
I knew nothing about the Vitamin K shot, I decided to do my research and then decide at the birth what I would do.
When I began hemorrhaging after Olive’s birth, the discussion of the shot was completely forgotten, and she ended up not getting it. After all, things that are deemed to be optional are probably not essential – right?
I hope for all the best for baby Olive. Please share her story widely.
If you would like a more detailed discussion, in Playing Newborn Intracranial Roulette: Parental Refusal of Vitamin K Injection, Stan L. Block, MD, FAAP discusses the issue at length.
And for newborns, vitamin K delivered intramuscularly has shown almost no known adverse effects except possibly a total of seven dermatologic reactions.1 The only reported serious adverse effect I could find in the literature happened not in the United States, but in a newborn in Turkey only a few months ago.2 This was a single case of potentially severe anaphylaxis reaction from a dose given at birth. This is the only English-language report in any of the reputable medical literature that I could find, despite administration of probably more than a billion newborn IM doses. If this one in a billion occurrence should ever happen again, then what better place for it to happen than in the presence of a trained physician and at least two nurses?
- January 15 2014 C'est Si Bon Birth Story
- February 28 2014 C'est Si Bon Olive Is Hospitalized
- March 2 2014 C'est Si Bon Olive's Recovery
- March 7 2014 C'est Si Bon Why Olive Suffered a Brain Bleed
- February Pediatric Annals, Playing Newborn Intracranial Roulette: Parental Refusal of Vitamin K Injection, Stan L. Block, MD, FAAP