Thrush is a common infection in infants below 6 months of age. Though not a serious condition, thrush might stress parents when they see it on their young babies. Learn what causes thrush in babies, its signs and symptoms and how to treat it.
Last Updated: Oct 22, 2020 11:29 GMT
Thrush in Babies: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment What causes oral thrush?
- Thrush is caused by a strain of fungus called Candida albicans. Candida is a part of the normal gut microbes but it doesn’t cause harm in general. The body’s immune system keeps the adverse actions of Candida in control. However, when the immune system is not fully developed, like in the case of newborns, or if the immune system is weaker, it can cause Candida to develop white sores in and around the mouth.
- It is possible for a breastfeeding mother to develop thrush on the breasts either from the baby or because of her poor immunity. Thrush usually affects the baby if the mother has on her breast and vice versa.
- Nevertheless, babies who are not breastfed also acquire oral thrush, thus proving that it doesn’t exclusively affect breastfed babies alone. Use of not well-cleaned bottle nipples can be a cause too.
- Taking antibiotics can lead to depletion in the normal growth of bacteria which are needed for the control of Candida. This can be one of the causes of oral thrush.
- Yeasts thrive well under moist conditions. If mother’s nipples are not pat dried after feeding, or if the baby’s mouth is moist, it can encourage the growth of Candida, thus causing infection.
- It is also said to be carried to the baby from the mother’s vagina during vaginal birth.
What are the signs and symptoms of thrush in babies? Oral thrush in babies gives out these characteristics symptoms:
- White patches on the tongue, lips, inside or roof of the mouth.
- (Note: While milk residue can also give white patches on the tongue, thrush patches will not go away upon wiping gently with a wet cloth)
- Redness around the patches.
- When the white patch is accidentally scraped off, there can be red sore underneath which bleeds.
- The affected area may be painful to baby and baby may seem visually irritated during nursing or feeding.
- Baby may also avoid taking in feeds because of the discomfort associated with the infection.
How is thrush in babies treated?
There is no home remedy or self-medication to treat thrush in babies. Consult your baby’s medical care provider at the earliest once you suspect thrush symptoms in your baby. Without medical intervention, thrush can increase in severity which you can avoid by taking immediate medical help.
Doctors usually prescribe anti-fungal oral drops or gel for regular application on the affected areas for around two weeks. If oral thrush in your baby is accompanied by diaper rash, you might also want to attend to it. Also, if you are breastfeeding, it is important to take preventive medication for nipple thrush or, if already infected, take appropriate medication.
1. Oral Thrush. Kids Health. Last reviewed: June 2018. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/thrush.html
2. Thrush in Babies. Baby Center. Last Updated: October 2016. https://www.babycenter.com/0_thrush-in-babies_92.bc
3. Tanguay, K. E., McBean, M. R., & Jain, E. (1994). Nipple candidiasis among breastfeeding mothers. Case-control study of predisposing factors. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 40, 1407-13.