“…and are you getting the vitamin k shot?”, our doctor asked us as we were filling out the final paperwork before our child is born. My wife and I both looked at each other in confusion. I had never even considered it being an option until now. I figured it was just something you did. My brother and sisters all had it, my first child had it, and no one ever asked me, it just was part of the program, or so I thought. Now that our doctor had planted the seed of question, we looked to her for advice. Unfortunately it seemed like her hands were tied. She couldn’t say yes or no and urged us to do our research. With no real advice, would have to make that judgment call on our own. Where to look for reliable answer though? We hit the Internet.
Over eight years ago when I first daughter was born there was just no question, the shots were given and we never knew that there was an option, or any reason to refuse them. Now, so many people are taking consideration about what shots are given to children and about what time, how many and so forth, that it is an absolute informational overflow that can become quite overwhelming. My wife and I scoured the Internet for hours looking for a definitive and reliable answer and really didn’t find any more comfort there. Some states claim that it is required by law, while other parents insist that you are able to opt out and give their reasons.
We went back and forth sharing different websites with each other and got no closer to a solution. Every website different from the last, you really had to just look for someone you felt like you could trust and go with what they had to say. Going back to school to become a doctor certainly wasn’t an option at this point and this was becoming a major headache! Some of the websites we saw read like conspiracy theory manifestoes. In addition to refusing all shots with little evidence to suggest why, special and very bizarre diets were suggested for the mother and child, along with folk tales, tall tales, and home made remedies. Others suggested alternatives that were downright disgusting and made us completely uncomfortable without any scientifically backing other than what someone read, probably via another website.
It just goes to show you that anything can be put on the Internet and presented as fact. I started to look for the credentials of the people dispensing this advice and wasn’t surprised to find none at all. Most of the people giving advice about these vitamin K shots (amongst other things) had only finished the course instruction of a yoga class or a seminar about aligning your chakras. No medical school to be found. I certainly wasn’t comfortable putting my child’s life in the hands of someone who’s medical expertise was perpetually stuck in down dog pose, as they dispense nonsensical theories while they sip on a kombucha drink. Aside from that, what works for one, doesn’t work for everyone. Medicinal choices are highly personal and what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander in this case.
I started to look for sources that I felt like I could trust. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, and even more liberal and alternative sources like Dr. Andrew Weil, amongst many other science-based medicine websites. While some vehemently insisted that it was absolutely necessary, others clearly laid out the benefits versus the risk. The risk really turned out to be nothing more than being a little uncomfortable, the same risk for any shot. These same risks are present in almost any vaccination, so if you are against this one, you’d have to be against them all. If perhaps you never were going to vaccinate your child, and were worried about the risks of shots in general, then I might understand such opinions, but I couldn’t find anything related to vitamin K that seemed reliable at all, other than it could save my child’s life, especially if breast fed! After what seemed like an eternity of reading and my eyes going blurry, it appeared to me that the vitamin K shot had no measurable risk in the ingredients itself and that it’s small chance of reaction outweighed the benefit of administering it tenfold.
In this case, and I have experienced it before, you really have to weed through the nonsense on the Internet. It’s very easy to get hyped up when reading these conspiracy theory type sites that want to offer their two cents on parenting. Their way is always the only way, and science based medicine is always demonized. As a fan of alternative therapies and integrative medicine, it takes more than an opinion to be a recognizable fact of what does and doesn’t work. It’s not so black and white, not so cut and dry.
You really have to consider the source in these cases. I think it is great that we have so much information at the tips of our fingers, yet it also can be quite confusing and makes for a great amount of uncertainty when anyone can put any concept or idea they think up on the Internet and presented as fact. It makes parents question their instinct, question science and question themselves. We want to do what’s right for our child, we get caught up in the “what if’s” and we can easily lose touch with reality. It truly is up to us as parents to do our research, we are our child’s best advocate, but not only that, it is important for us to consider the source. Unless we are doctors ourselves, our guess is as good as anyone’s, and my only suggestion would be check your sources, do your research and find a doctor that you feel like you can trust. Get a second opinion! Doctors aren’t always right, but they are able to make more informed decisions and suggestions than your average blogger, myself included. If you find yourself questioning your doctor, disagreeing with their course of treatments, or just feeling like something is wrong, trust your gut and find a new doctor, but by all means don’t replace scientifically based medicine with reading a blog.