Vitamin K Deficiency in Newborns and their Mothers in South-West Uganda

Vitamin K Deficiency in Newborns and their Mothers in South-West Uganda

Vitamin K is especially needed for blood clotting and bone formation. Therefore, vitamin K deficiency can, for example, intensify the bleeding tendency and prolong the coagulation time of the blood (1). Newborns in Germany are routinely given vitamin K as a preventive measure (2). Vitamin K deficiency is widespread in Sub-Saharan Africa, but exact numbers are not yet available. Since vitamin K deficiency is almost unrecognized, the chances of its prevention cannot be used at all, Ugandan scientists argue. To help fill this gap, they determined the vitamin K status for 141 newborns and their mothers in the publicly operated Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH) together with German, US and British physicians. The analysis showed that one third of the mothers and two thirds of the newborns had a vitamin K deficiency. The scientists recommend to comprehensively inform about vitamin K and its deficiency symptoms and to implement appropriate diagnostics (3).

Vitamin K is divided into two groups: vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone). Vitamin K1 is mainly found in the chloroplasts of plants and can be absorbed particularly with green leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach) and the consumption of cabbage (sauerkraut, flower, rose, red cabbage). More sources are dandelion, cress, leek or fennel. Vitamin K2 is produced by certain bacteria of the intestinal flora and is absorbed directly via the intestinal cells. Veal liver, eggs and dairy products contain plenty of vitamin K2 as well. Foods containing vitamin K should be stored as light-protected as possible, as otherwise the vitamins content of the food will reduce (1).


Read and see more:

(1) S. Akbari und A. A. Rasouli-Ghahroudi. Vitamin K and Bone Metabolism: A Review of the Latest Evidence in Preclinical.  BioMed research international. Studies.2018 Jun. 27. Available at
(2) Cf. Vitamin-K-Prophylaxe bei Neugeborenen, Empfehlungen der Ernährungskommission der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin (DGKJ), Monatsschr Kinderheilkd 161, 351-353 (2013) and the additions from 2014. Available at and S2k-Leitlinie 024-022 „Prophylaxe von Vitamin-K-Mangel-Blutungen (VKMB) bei Neugeborenen“ current status: 03/2016. (German)
(3) D. Santorino et al. Prevalence and Predictors of Functional Vitamin K Insufficiency in Mothers and Newborns in Uganda. Nutrients. 2015 Oct 16;7(10):8545-52. Availiable at



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