What Is Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB)?

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Doctor checking heartbeat with a stethoscope
Legally reviewed by:
Steven R. Davis and John A. Davis, Jr.
July 9, 2024

Vitamin K is an essential vitamin that helps with blood clotting. As adults, we get most of our vitamin K intake from dark, leafy greens or even from the good gut bacteria that already lives in our intestines. Newborns are born with only a small amount of vitamin K in their system, and in order to supplement it and prevent bleeding, they are given a vitamin K shot immediately at birth. 

When your medical provider fails to do so, your infant is put at risk of vitamin K deficiency bleeding, or VKDB. This is a highly preventable condition, with the treatment involving only the vitamin K shot. However, if your infant does not immediately get this extra boost of the vitamin, they are put at risk of internal or external bleeding that does not clot. If your family has fallen victim to medical malpractice, it is vital you reach out to a dedicated and compassionate attorney at once. With great consideration to your family’s needs, an attorney from Davis & Davis will fight for the financial compensation and justice you deserve. 

Understanding Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding

At birth, babies have very little vitamin K stored in their bodies. The good bacteria in adults’ intestines that produce the vitamin is not yet present in their bodies, and in order to make up for the lack of the vitamin, it is highly recommended infants receive a safe vitamin K shot before they are six months of age. If not, they run the risk of developing VKDB. 

What VKDB Is

When your doctor fails to provide your infant with the shot and necessary dosage of vitamin K, VKDB can form. This can arise from a simple cut that won’t clot to even internal bleeding occurring. Infants with VKDB run a high risk of bleeding into their intestines or brain, which can be very serious and fatal if not caught immediately. 

VKDB is categorized by the stage at which it develops, including early-onset, classical, and late-onset. Early and classical are far more common and are more likely to occur in infants with mothers who take certain medications. Late-onset VKDB occurs between one week and six months after birth and is far more rare. It mostly affects children who have been exclusively breastfed and have not received the shot. 

How to Spot VKDB

Unfortunately, the side effects of VKDB can be quite hard to notice, especially if the bleeding is internal. If you notice your child has been cut and it won’t stop bleeding, it is vital you take them to the hospital to receive emergency medical care as soon as possible. Additional symptoms can include: 

  • Bruises around the head or face
  • Bleeding from the nose or umbilical cord
  • Paler skin or gums than usual
  • Blood in stool

If you believe your child is experiencing the side effects of VKDB, seek medical attention immediately. 


Infants who do not receive the vitamin K shot at birth, whether as a result of medical malpractice or because the parents do not want their child to receive the shot, are 81 times more likely to develop VKDB than infants who do receive the shot. One shot in the thigh at birth is all it takes to treat the condition and protect your child from the side effects. There is also an oral form of the injection. 

Has Your Child Been Affected by VKDB Due to a Doctor’s Negligence? A Lawyer From Davis & Davis Can Help

When your medical provider fails to adhere to their expected duty of care and protect your child from the harsh and life-threatening consequences of Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding, they must be held liable for their negligence. Davis & Davis is a Texas-based medical malpractice firm that is proud to offer over 65 years of combined experience getting our clients the financial compensation and justice they need to start fresh. 

We deeply understand the sensitive nature of cases involving the well-being of your children and are here to listen with compassionate ears and fight with expert knowledge. To see how we can best help your family today, please schedule a free case evaluation by calling (888) 522-9444 or by filling out a contact form.

John A. Davis, Jr.


John A. Davis, Jr. and Steven R. Davis

July 9 2024

Steven R. Davis and John A. Davis, Jr. are experienced attorneys at Davis & Davis, a law firm that specializes in medical malpractice cases in Texas. With a deep commitment to justice that guides their ethical approach, Davis and Davis have dedicated their careers to helping victims of medical negligence. They and their team continue to advocate for clients, despite the challenges posed by Texas's cap on recoverable damages in malpractice lawsuits. Davis & Davis pride themselves on their extensive experience in the field and their readiness to meet clients across the United States.

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