Expectant Parents FAQ, Part Two

A few more frequently-asked questions…

Q: Does my newborn need to get the Vitamin K shot?

A: Yes, absolutely. Babies are born without adequate levels of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is vital to the process of having blood make an effective clot. Our bodies get it from healthy bacteria that live in our intestines and manufacture it for us, but a newborn baby doesn’t have any bacteria yet to do the job. It takes several weeks to get enough bacteria to start making Vitamin K, and in the meantime your baby is unprotected. In the Bad Old Days, this all too often resulted in something called Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn. Infants without Vitamin K can have severe bleeding from the tiniest injury, including bleeding into the brain, and this can be fatal. You don’t want to put your newborn at risk for this. You may have heard some people talk about an oral version of Vitamin K instead… but don’t be fooled, it doesn’t work, isn’t approved for this purpose, and we don’t support its use.

Q: When does my baby need to start their his or her immunizations?

A: Right away. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that the first dose of Hepatitis B vaccine be given in the hospital, right after that baby is born. It’s usually done within the first 12 hours of life. If for some reason this isn’t given in the hospital, we will do it at the baby’s first office visit.

Q: I don’t want to vaccinate my baby. Can I bring my baby to you for care? Are there providers at your office who will agree with my approach?

A: In accordance with AAP policies, we don’t turn parents away from our practice if they don’t immunize their children. That doesn’t mean we agree with your decision. In fact, we think that immunizing your baby, on schedule, according to the recommendations, is the most important health care you can provide to your child. If you have questions or concerns about immunizations we will do our best to answer them and point you toward reliable and scientific sources of information. The Resources section of this website has some great places to start. If you refuse to immunize your baby then you can expect us to remind you of the consequences of your decison at every visit, and you will be asked to sign a special waiver acknowledging the risks of not immunizing. We also reserve the right to restrict non-immunized children from our waiting room by asking them to wait in the car before being seen, to avoid exposing our other patients to potentially devastating illnesses. 

All of our providers are on board with this policy so you won’t get a different answer by shopping around… and in the end, if you are still opposed to immunizations and all of the life-saving science behind them, then you should look elsewhere for a practice. We won’t turn you away but neither will we support your decision to put your child (and others) at harm. We do NOT maintain a list of local providers who do not vaccinate, nor would we recommend any such provider to you.

Q: I want to breast-feed my child, but if I don’t have enough milk, I want to feed the baby goat’s milk. I’ve heard that’s better than formula because it’s all natural.

A: Breast-feeding is best for babies. If you are unable to breast-feed your infant, then a commercially-prepared cows-milk formula is almost always the best choice. There are organic versions available if that is important to you. Goat’s milk is deficient in several important vitamins as well as iron. Infants fed on goat’s milk grow severely anemic and may have other health problems as well. Goat’s milk and goat cheese are fine for older children as part of their balanced diet.

Q: I’ve heard it’s important for a pediatric office to have a ‘sick’ waiting room and a ‘well’ waiting room. Is that true? Do you have your lobby set up that way?

A: We don’t. Studies have shown that divided waiting areas don’t decrease the spread of germs. My favorite analogy to this is the swimming pool story: having a divided waiting room is like having a ‘peeing section’ and a ‘non-peeing section’ of the swimming pool. We believe in preventing illness in our waiting room by keeping it clean and ventilated AND trying to assure that your child doesn’t have to wait very long to be seen. Our staff clean the waiting area and patient restrooms regularly throughout the day.