Haemorrhagic disease of the newborn is a coagulation disturbance in newborns due to vitamin K deficiency. As a consequence of vitamin K deficiency there is an impaired production of coagulation factors II, VII, IX, X, C and S by the liver.
Newborns are relatively vitamin K deficient for a variety of reasons. They have low vitamin K stores at birth, vitamin K passes the placenta poorly, the levels of vitamin K in breast milk are low and the gut flora has not yet been developed (vitamin K is normally produced by bacteria in the intestines).
The disease causes an increased risk of bleeding. The most common sites of bleeding are the umbilicus, mucous membranes, gastrointestinal tract, circumcision and venipunctures.
Treatment consists of vitamin K supplementation. This is often given prophylactically to newborns shortly after birth.