Medical and midwifery attitudes towards vitamin K prophylaxis in New Zealand neonates

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Neonates are at risk for potentially life-threatening vitamin K deficiency bleeding. This can be readily prevented with prophylactic vitamin K following delivery. In this context, most vitamin K-deficiency bleeding occurs in those whose parents decline newborn vitamin K. One factor influencing parental decision-making is information received from health professionals. This study examined attitudes and perceptions towards newborn vitamin K in relevant health-care professionals.


A literature review and one-on-one semi-structured interviews were conducted to inform questionnaire design. Midwives and selected medical staff employed in the South Island of New Zealand were then invited to complete an anonymous survey exploring attitudes and perceptions towards vitamin K prophylaxis in newborns.


The survey achieved an overall response rate of 57%. Almost all responding medical staff and 76% of midwives agreed with the current New Zealand Ministry of Health vitamin K guideline. All medical staff but only 55% of midwives feel that all babies should receive vitamin K. Differences were also seen between professionals with respect to vitamin K education and risks.


This is the first study to examine attitudes and perceptions of midwives and doctors to vitamin K prophylaxis in neonates. Considerable discrepancies in attitude are evident, and in some midwives, a lack of confidence in this intervention is apparent. How this affects education to families is unknown. Increased understanding of this phenomenon, along with improved education and communication to professionals and families, is required.

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