Oral Thrush – Symptoms and Causes


Thrush in babies

Oral thrush in babies is a fungal infection that can occur in the throat, tongue or around the mouth. Despite being a concern for parents, thrush in babies mouth is very common during bubs first year of life, and isn’t anything to worry about.

What causes thrush in a newborn baby’s mouth?

Babies can pick up oral thrush when they pass through their mother’s vagina during birth, as the vagina contains a small amount of the yeast causing thrush, Candida albicans. Baby may also develop oral candidiasis by sucking on an object already infected with thrush, such as dummies, bottle teats or nipples.

While Candida albicans is a normal yeast that lives in our bodies, thrush can occur when there is an imbalance with other organisms. An imbalance may result after antibiotic treatment, which destroys normal bacteria in the gut, affecting the balanced of microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast.

Can breastfed babies get thrush?

Breastfed babies can develop oral thrush if the breastfeeding mother has thrush on the nipples. Women with a vaginal yeast infection are more likely to develop thrush that can lodge in the nipples, areola and breasts, causing pain during and after feeds. If baby developed oral thrush first, it is possible for baby to spread the infection to the mother during breastfeeding. It is important for both mum and bub to be treated for the infection.

What does oral thrush in babies look like?

Oral thrush can appear as white spots or patches on the inside of baby’s cheeks, lips and tongue. These patches are not easily wiped away, and often leave red, inflammation spots when you try and wipe away.

What does thrush in babies bottom look like?

Baby thrush often appears as a nappy rash that won’t go away. It may appear bright red, with shiny patches and clearly defined borders. It can also appear as red spots around the bottom, surrounding skin and nappy area.

How do you know if your baby has oral thrush?

If your baby shows any of the following signs, it is important to seek advice from your GP or pediatrician:

  • White patches on the tongue, cheeks, or roof of the mouth.
  • Difficulty feeding: fussy and not latching to the bottle or breast

How to treat thrush on baby’s tongue

Oral thrush is treated with antifungal medication prescribed by a medical doctor. You need to take baby to see your pediatrician if you suspect oral thrush. If you are breastfeeding, it’s likely that you will need to take the medication also.

Always wash your hands before and after breastfeeding if thrush is present. A lactation consultant may be able to provide further information on safe practices for breastfeeding.

Regardless of whether it’s thrush on baby tongue or bottom, you still need to visit a doctor for medical advice, diagnosis and treatment.




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