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HEALTHY NEWBORN :: Common Procedures

Eye Prophylaxis/Vitamin K Injection

What is eye prophylaxis?

Eye drops or ointment containing an antibiotic medication are placed in a newborn's eyes after birth. This is required by law to protect the baby from an unknown gonorrhea infection in the mother's body. Antibiotics are used in most hospitals. Another preparation, called silver nitrate, is sometimes used.

The ointment or drops may cause a baby's eyes to appear cloudy and some newborns' eyes may become very irritated with redness or swelling. This is a temporary condition and the medication should not be washed or cleaned out of the eyes.

What are vitamin K injections?

Vitamin K is an essential component of blood clotting produced by intestinal bacteria. Babies normally have low levels of this vitamin. To prevent a serious bleeding problem called hemorrhagic disease of the newborn (HDN), most babies receive an injection of vitamin K in the upper thigh. This may be momentarily painful to the baby, but it does not seem to cause babies any pain afterwards.

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It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.
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