SOUTH BEND, Ind.--- Vitamin k is needed by our bodies for blood clotting, and it's one of the first shots offered to newborns.
More parents are choosing to skip shots and not vaccinate their children, believing it's unhealthy and unnecessary.
Now the CDC is reporting a surge in cases of life-threatening brain bleeds in babies who weren't vaccinated.
The Shaker family knows all too well the risk parents take when they don’t vaccinate their children.
When the Shaker family had their twins, they decided against immunizations.
"Immunizations don't seem very natural,” said Melissa Shaker. “So I just wanted to stay away from them at least for a year."
But two months after bringing the boys home, baby Silas turned very pale.
"Like he looked like he was dying white,” said Melissa. “It was scary."
"One of the first questions that was asked of her in the hospital was did you have, did you get the vitamin k shot?" said Mark Shaker.
The Shakers hadn't. Silas had vitamin k deficiency, and suffered multiple brain bleeds.
Typically the blood clotting disorder only affects one-in-100,000 babies, but Silas is one of seven cases Vanderbilt doctors have seen in the last year.
"Had we known some of these things, we could have made smarter decisions," said Mark.
"Thankfully he was one of the cases that we'd seen after we'd already seen a couple of cases, and so we gave vitamin k immediately to this child," said Dr. Robert Sidonio Jr., a pediatric hematologist at Vanderbilt University.
Dr. Sidonio believes the numbers could surge in the future because of the trend of parents refusing immunizations.
"Probably somewhere in the range of 1 in 100, to 1 in 1,000 kids will develop this," said Dr. Sidonio.
While doctors were able to stop the bleeding in Silas, he has to take medication for seizures, and he's in physical therapy to retrain his left side.
“Only time will tell,” said Mark. “You know, will he respond to therapy? Will there be any other residual effects of this?"
To be safe, Silas' twin Abel was also treated and is doing fine.
Dr. Sidonio says many parents have declined the vitamin k shot because of a single study circulating on the internet linking it to leukemia.
But, he says at least 10 studies since then have shown there is absolutely no link.
BABIES HEMORRHAGE AFTER PARENTS REFUSE VITAMIN K SHOTS
BACKGROUND: Vitamin K is an important factor in helping our blood clot. Blood clots help prevent the body from excessively bleeding. Many people take dietary supplements, however vitamin K is not typically one of them. Vitamin K1 can be found in leafy greens and some other vegetables, while vitamin K2 can be found in meats, eggs and cheeses. It is seen as typical to give newborn babies a shot of vitamin K when they are born, however some people refuse to do this which could actually be dangerous to the newborn. While the mother can eat as much as she wants of food rich in vitamin K it won't make a difference to the baby. This is because vitamin K doesn't travel easily across the placenta from the mother to the child. Also, once the baby is born it still doesn't receive much vitamin K because breast milk doesn't contain much.
(Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-guide-vitamin-k and http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007320.htm and http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007320.htm )
HEMORRHAGIC DISEASE IN NEWBORNS: This is developed because of a lack of vitamin K. Without the shot there hemorrhagic disease is much more likely. It can be seen in three different categories.
* Early onset hemorrhagic disease is rare for newborns, but develops in the first few hours of birth. It is often caused by blood thinners or anti-seizure drugs taken during pregnancy.
* Classic onset disease is also rare and is seen often in newborns who breastfeed and don't get their vitamin K shot within a week of being born.
* The late onset form is more common in children who didn't receive the vitamin K shot, and also in newborns of Asian descent. It is seen in infants older than 2 weeks up to 2 months old.
Newborns are also more likely to develop this disease if they suffer from alpha1-antitryspin deficiency, biliary atresia, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, diarrhea, or hepatitis.
(Source: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007320.htm )