Refusal of Vitamin K by Parents of Newborns: A Qualitative Study

Jaspreet Loyal, Theresa R. Weiss, Jessica H. Cheng, Laura R. Kair, Eve Colson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: Despite American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, some parents refuse intramuscular (IM) vitamin K as prophylaxis against vitamin K deficiency bleeding for their newborns. The purpose of our study was to describe attitudes and perceptions of parents who choose to defer IM vitamin K for their newborns. Methods: Using qualitative methodology, we conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with parents of newborns in 3 hospitals in Connecticut and California. We used the grounded theory approach and the constant comparative method until saturation was reached. Results: Nineteen participants (17 mothers and 2 fathers) of 17 newborns were interviewed; 14 newborns did not receive IM vitamin K due to refusal by the parents, and for 3 newborns IM vitamin K administration was delayed due to initial hesitation by the parents. Four major themes emerged: 1) risk-to-benefit ratio, where parents refused IM vitamin K due to a perceived risk to their newborn from preservatives, for example; 2) “natural” approaches, which led to seeking oral vitamin K or increasing the mother's own prenatal dietary vitamin K intake; 3) placement of trust and mistrust, which involved mistrust of the medical and pharmaceutical community with overlapping concerns about vaccines and trust of self, like-minded allopathic and non-allopathic health care providers, the social circle, the internet, and social media; and 4) informed by experiences, reflecting hospital experiences with prior pregnancies and communication with health care providers. Conclusions: Parents’ perception of risk, preference for alternative options, trust, and communication with health care providers were pivotal factors when making decisions about IM vitamin K.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-800
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Pediatrics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • newborns
  • parent perspectives
  • vitamin K refusal


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