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Why do parents decline newborn intramuscular vitamin K prophylaxis?
  1. Hayleigh Miller1,
  2. Nicola Kerruish2,3,
  3. Roland S Broadbent3,
  4. David Barker3,
  5. Benjamin J Wheeler3
  1. 1Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2. 2Bioethics Centre, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  3. 3Department of Women's and Children's Health, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Benjamin J Wheeler, Women's and Children's Health, University of Otago, Dunedin School of Medicine, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand; ben.wheeler{at}


Objective To explore the influencing factors and reasoning of parents who opt out of intramuscular vitamin K prophylaxis for their newborn.

Design We conducted a qualitative study with 15 families from the Otago/Southland region of New Zealand. Semistructured interviews explored their choice to opt out of intramuscular vitamin K prophylaxis and thematic analysis was used to elucidate themes that captured important aspects of this parental decision-making process.

Results Parents opt out of intramuscular vitamin K for a variety of reasons. These were clustered into three main themes: parents' beliefs and values (philosophy and spirituality), concerns about their child's welfare (pain and potential side effects) and external influencing factors (family, friends, media and health professionals). As part of a wider family hesitancy towards medical intervention, the majority of parents also raised concerns regarding other perinatal or childhood interventions.

Conclusion Many factors influence parental decision making and lead to a decision to opt out of newborn intramuscular vitamin K prophylaxis. Due to strong parallels with other common childhood interventions, these findings have relevance for vitamin K prophylaxis and for other healthcare interventions in childhood.

  • Blood
  • Children
  • Clinical Ethics
  • Decision-making

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