Dr Jayne Donegan, MB

Re Vitamin K and new born babies

An oral formulation of Vitamin K has been licensed and launched this week.

The new NeoKay 1mg capsules are administered by cutting the narrow tubular tip off the capsule and squeezing the liquid into the baby’s mouth.

Whether all babies need vitamin K is a question that has been rather subsumed by the current policy to give it to all of them.

This would not cause so much of a dilemma if it were not that it is

1) Given as an intramuscular injection – any injection is unpleasant for a new born baby, and more worrying,

2) A study by Dr Jean Golding and others published in 1992 suggested a possible link between intramuscular vitamin K and childhood leukaemia

There has been research since then which has neither confirmed or adequately refuted these findings.

Unlike vaccination, where one has to decide to have a particular vaccine or not, in the case of vitamin K , the choice is easier as there is the option of oral administration but this has not been widely available. For example, when my second child was born in 1993, I had to send to Holland to get it.

There has been much discussion in the journals as to whether the oral formulation is as effective as the injectable and what the appropriate dose and dose interval should be

The late, lamented Edmund Hey, former consultant Paediatrician in Respiratory Medicine at Great Ormond Street Hospital and latterly Senior Lecturer at the Royal Victoria Infirmary Newcastle upon Tyne, was an expert on the subject, writing many papers and trying to bring some sense of proportion to the debate. As a result of his efforts, an oral form of vitamin K was available from hospital pharmacies in the North of England for many years on a restricted prescribing basis.

A project close to his heart was the development of a licensed product which could be available to all. Sadly Dr Edmund Hey died in December 2009, before this came about.

NeoKay is a prescription only medicine which will not be directly advertised to the public. I am sending this email with the details attached so that those who are doctors, other health professionals or sources of information for parents-to-be, will be aware of the product so that they can inform parents who can then request it from their GP, Obstetrician or Paediatrician.

Attached is the product information for NeoKay as well as an excellent overview of the vitamin K situation form the Neonatal Formulary written by Dr Hey in 2004 – before the advent of this product. It is also available at: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/medicine/bmj/nnf5/drugs.asp click on Vitamin K.

The Vegetarian Society will also be supporting this product.

I have no financial link to or interest in NeoKay. I am just very pleased that parents now have a good oral preparation available to them.


Jayne Donegan

Dr Jayne Donegan


121 Sunny Gardens Road

London NW4 1SH, UK

T/F 0044 (0)20 8632 1634