The anti-vaccination movement has taken a more dangerous turn recently, morphing into an anti-shot movement, and the children of adamant mothers are suffering. A simple shot of vitamin K could stop children from developing the life-threatening Vitamin K Deficient Bleeding (VKDB) disorder, but because it’s injected, parents refuse and risk their children’s lives.

Infants who don’t receive enough vitamin K from their mother’s body during pregnancy or from their breast milk, can receive an injection into their leg muscle, which is by no means a vaccine and has been a standard practice of the American Academy of Pediatrics since 1961.

But because so many mothers are having a difficult time separating fact from fiction, they believe any injection is dangerous. Now children are suffering from a completely preventable disorder that causes brain and gastrointestinal bleeds that requires surgical intervention to save their lives.

"Earlier concern regarding a possible causal association between parenteral [injected] vitamin K and childhood cancer has not been substantiated,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The frightening truth came into light in the last eight months, when seven infants between 7 to 20 weeks old arrived at Vanderbilt University Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital with VKDB. Doctors believe the rise is a direct cause of parental refusal to allow their child the vitamin K shot at birth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infants who don’t receive a vitamin K injection have an 81 times greater chance of developing late stages of VKDB than those who simply receive the shot.

Doctors can thank former British surgeon and medical researcher Andrew Wakefield for the anti-vaccination movement, which started rising into power just after he published a study in 1998. The study, which was later retracted, made a faint and ultimately false connection between vaccinations and autism.

Once not one of the millions of children researchers’ studies showed the same connection, they concluded the study could not be replicated and was false. Even though Wakefield was stripped of his medical license, one in four parents still believes vaccines cause autism in otherwise healthy children.

Vitamin K isn’t even a vaccine, yet anti-vaccination believers have taken the whole movement to another level and believe any stick of a needle is an assault on the baby’s sensory system at a time when they’re trying to adjust to the world. They go on to claim oral doses of vitamin K are sufficient enough to treat VKDB.

Studies have shown giving vitamin K by mouth droplets leads to missed doses and leave babies vulnerable to late-onset VKDB. From the amount of babies admitted into Vanderbilt University’s pediatric wing from this year alone, it’s clear parents aren’t administering oral vitamin K effectively and are putting their babies at risk.

Why is vitamin K so important? Vitamins are organic substances that the body needs for normal metabolic processes and cannot be produced within the human body. We accumulate the necessary vitamins through eating, mostly leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, and other healthy foods.

The importance of vitamin K was realized in 1929, when noble-prize winning Danish researcher Henrik Dam discovered it had the power to correct bleeding people experienced when they cut chicken out of their diets.

Since vitamin K’s primary role in the human body is to clot blood and grow bone density, it’s important newborn infants are receiving an adequate dosage or else VKDB could occur to otherwise healthy babies.