Which Disease is Caused by Deficiency of Vitamin K?

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A deficiency of vitamin K can lead to a bleeding disorder known as vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) or hemorrhagic disease of the newborn (HDN) in infants. This condition primarily affects newborns, but it can also occur in adults, especially those with certain medical conditions or who take medications that interfere with vitamin K absorption or function.

There are three main forms of VKDB:

  • Early-Onset VKDB: This occurs within the first 24 hours of life in infants who have not received adequate vitamin K at birth. Newborns are typically born with low levels of vitamin K, and without a sufficient intake of vitamin K, their blood may not clot properly, leading to bleeding. Early-onset VKDB is rare but can be severe.
  • Classic VKDB: This form occurs in the first week of life, usually between days 2 and 7. It is more common than early-onset VKDB. Infants are more likely to develop this condition if they have not received vitamin K supplementation at birth.
  • Late-Onset VKDB: This form occurs in infants between 2 weeks and 6 months of age, and it can be associated with breastfeeding, as breast milk is relatively low in vitamin K. Late-onset VKDB can lead to spontaneous bleeding, often internally.

In adults, vitamin K deficiency is less common but can occur in individuals with conditions that affect fat absorption, such as certain gastrointestinal disorders (e.g., celiac disease, Crohn’s disease) or in those taking medications that interfere with vitamin K metabolism (e.g., certain blood thinners like warfarin).

Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, and a deficiency can lead to bleeding tendencies. To prevent VKDB in newborns, vitamin K is routinely administered shortly after birth in many countries. If you suspect a vitamin K deficiency in yourself or your child, it is essential to consult with a healthcare provider for diagnosis and appropriate treatment or supplementation.

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