There is a wealth of information on vegan mothers-to-be and babies in our publication Feeding your vegan infant- with confidence by State Registered Dietician, Sandra Hood.
The Vegan Society's vegan babies and children guide contains information on pregnancy and pre-pregnancy nutrition, vegan babies and children, also for information about childhood nutrition see our page 'the vegan diet for infants and children' and the parenting section of this site.
Information on Vitamin K deficiency bleeding prophylaxes
Babies have no reserves of vitamin K at birth. Lack of this vitamin can cause a rare but potentially dangerous bleeding condition, vitamin K deficient bleeding (VKDB.)
VKDB is classified into different stages; early, classical and late.
Babies who are entirely breast fed are at greater risk, because human milk contains less vitamin K than artificial milks; approximately 1 μg per day, in contrast to the 50μg received from formula.[i]. Only about one breast fed baby in six thousand develops such a problem, but when late bleeding does happen, it can be without warning and can occur in the head.[ii]
Types of prophylaxis available
Neither of the products currently licensed as a prophylaxes in the U.K. are vegan.
Konakion MM is a 1mg injection of vitamin K given intramuscularly at birth. It contains cow bile.
Neokay Capsules contain 1mg of vitamin K. They are given orally. The contents of one capsule are given at birth. Then, if the baby is being exclusively breast fed, a single capsule is given weekly for the first twelve weeks of the baby’s life. The capsule is made from gelatine, so the product is not vegan.
Neokay Drops is a liquid product. It contains no animal ingredients. The normal recommended daily dose is 50μg of vitamin K. This is equivalent to the amount in formula milks.
The company website gives further information on using this product. http://neo-ceuticals.co.uk/neokayDrops.html
It is currently only licensed as a food supplement, not as a VKDB prophylaxis, reflecting the Department of Health’s preference for larger, more infrequent oral doses. [iii] It is available directly from hospitals, but not currently from retail outlets.
[i] Greer FR, Marshall S, Cherry J, Suttie JW. Vitamin K status of lactating mothers, human milk, and breast-feeding infants. Pediatrics 1991; 88: 751–6.
2 Department of Health. Vitamin K for newborn babies, PL/CMO(98)3. 1998 London: HMSO,
British Journal of Midwifery, Vol. 16, Iss. 8, 07 Aug 2008, pp 516 - 519
"Newborn vitamin K prophylaxis against vitamin K deficiency bleeding is routinely recommended in the UK. Different regimes and recommendations are considered in the light of recent reports. There is no clear consensus regarding the best route, frequency of oral administration, or efficacy of preparations. The formulation of the only vitamin K preparation available is not vegetarian in origin. The possibility of an increase in the small number of parents who withhold consent to newborn prophylaxis is considered alongside other issues which may influence women’s choice. Midwives and doctors may face considerable difficulties and dilemmas in obtaining informed consent, particularly in the case of vegetarian women because there is currently no vegetarian alternative to offer. A campaign is in progress towards finding a solution to this dilemma."