Vitamin K deficiency bleeding in Australian infants 1993-2017: an Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit study

Yvonne Zurynski, Cameron J. Grover, Bin Jalaludin, Elizabeth J. Elliott

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To undertake surveillance of vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) in Australia from 1993 to 2017, during a time of change to national recommendations and available vitamin K formulations. Methods: Paediatricians reported cases of VKDB in infants aged <6 months and provided demographic, clinical and biochemical information via the Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit. Results: 58 cases were reported, of which 5 (9%) were early, 11 (19%) classic and 42 (72%) late VKDB. 53 (91%) were exclusively breast fed. Seven (12%) received oral prophylaxis, the majority (86%) of whom did not receive all three recommended doses. The overall reported incidence was 0.84 per 100 000 live births (95% CI: 0.64 to 1.08) and the incidence of late VKDB was 0.61 per 100 000 live births (95% CI: 0.44 to 0.82), which are similar to rates reported by other countries where intramuscular vitamin K is recommended. VKDB rates were significantly higher (2.46 per 100 000 live births; 95% CI: 1.06 to 4.85) between 1993 and March 1994 when oral prophylaxis was recommended (p<0.05). Vitamin K was not given to 33 (57%) cases, primarily due to parental refusal, and the number of parental refusals increased significantly after 2006 (p<0.05). There were six deaths, all due to intracranial haemorrhage, and three associated with home delivery and parental refusal of vitamin K. Conclusions: Incidence rates of VKDB in Australia are among the lowest in the world; however, we have identified an increasing trend of parental refusal. Ongoing surveillance and educational campaigns for health professionals and parents are needed to prevent VKDB.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-438
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Issue number5
Early online date13 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • epidemiology
  • neonatology
  • surveillance
  • vitamin K deficiency bleeding


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