COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Local health officials are sounding a renewed warning for parents of newborn babies.

It’s one of the first major decisions that parents will have to make for their children, but some, doctors say, are taking an unnecessary risk.

“The Vitamin K shot is not a vaccine, so you certainly wouldn’t want to lump that in with vaccines,” warns Dr. Mike Patrick, an Emergency Medicine Physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

It’s the message that Dr. Patrick and other doctors have for the potentially growing number of parents opting against the Vitamin K shot for their newborn babies.

“It is really just a one-time injection that’s given, often times, right in the delivery room,” Dr. Patrick describes. And for some parents, it’s a one-time decision that could quite literally be a matter of life and death.

Dr. Patrick warns that newborns with low Vitamin K are at risk for what’s called ‘VKDB,’ or Vitamin K Deficient Bleeding. “Not only bleeding like from a cut or something, it’s easy just to bleed in the intestinal track — there’s a lot of little capillaries there,” Dr. Patrick describes. “You can also have head bleeds which can be devastating.”

Our bodies don’t make it naturally, meaning Vitamin K must come from our diets. “Gut bacteria do make a little bit of Vitamin K, but babies don’t have much bacteria in their gut yet, it takes a few months for that to develop,” reminds Dr. Patrick.

And because babies can’t eat leafy greens that provide Vitamin K, parents who refuse the shot could be putting their child at an increased risk. “The kids that are going to be at the most risk are going to be those less than four months old, and particularly in the first month or two,” says Dr. Patrick.

The warning from experts comes with some vaccine-hesitant parents lumping in the Vitamin K shot with other vaccines. Dr. Patrick assures that there are no risks associated with the shot and says while the dangers of VKDB are real and scary they are completely preventable.

“What we have noticed over the decades is that babies who get the vitamin k shot are 80 times less likely to have those kinds of bleeding problems that I had mentioned,” Dr. Patrick urges.

Health experts also want to remind parents that administering Vitamin K orally is not safe or effective for newborn babies. However, they say once children begin eating solid foods, they become much less at-risk for VKDB.