MACPM Statement Opposing “An Act to Prevent Vitamin K Deficiency and Eye Damage in Infants.”
2/10/2019: By Holly Arends Murphy, CPM, Co-Chair of the Maine Association of Certified Professional Midwives
The Steering Committee of the Maine Association of Certified Professional Midwives, on behalf of our members, opposes LD443, “An Act to Prevent Vitamin K Deficiency and Eye Damage in Infants.” While we share the objective to prevent Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding and ophthalmia neonatorum, we oppose this move to mandate administration of vitamin k and prophylactic antibiotic eye ointment.
MACPM strongly supports patient autonomy and rejects restricting the ability of patients or their parents to make choices related to their care. Not only do we believe that limitation of patient choice violates basic principles of ethics related to patient autonomy, but we also believe that compelling patients or their parents to accept treatment will not lead to greater compliance, but rather greater opposition. While we hold that all birthing people should be educated thoroughly about the risks of declining intramuscular vitamin k supplementation and prophylactic antibiotic eye ointment for their newborns, we oppose any move to compel providers to administer such treatment in opposition to the will of patients or their parents.
We also join the Canadian Paediatric Society in questioning policies for routine use of prophylactic eye ointment to prevent ophthalmia neonatorum. Evidence overwhelmingly supports universal prenatal testing and treatment of birthing people as the best way to prevent ophthalmia neonatorum. Additionally, there is significant evidence that erythromycin, the medication most commonly used for prophylaxis in the US, is not effective against chlamydia and is becoming less effective in treating N gonorrhea due to antibiotic resistance.
MACPM encourages the legislature to reject this attempt to mandate prophylaxis for vitamin k deficiency bleeding and ophthalmia neonatorum and instead urges the state to focus efforts on education of birthing people as well as prenatal testing for infections that threaten the health and wellbeing of newborns.