When Your Baby Has Thrush

Sometimes infants may develop a very common condition in which white patches form inside the mouth. Thrush typically affects newborns, but can be present in older babies as well. It can affect babies differently though it is generally harmless. Here are some things you might want to know if you suspect your baby has thrush.

What is thrush?
133915657079S6Y3Thrush occurs as a result from an overgrowth of yeast known as Candida. This fungus is normally already present in the body; however certain factors can alter the balance which in turn yields a yeast infection of the mouth. It is typically characterized by patches of white found on the tongue, inside the cheeks, roof of the mouth and throat and may be accompanied by soreness or pain of the mouth. It does not wipe off easily and appears raw and sore underneath.

The condition is not really serious although it could affect your baby’s eating habits. The only troublesome aspect is that pain and sometimes soreness can cause your baby to not want to suck which can interfere with feedings.

Common Causes of Thrush

Thrush is common in newborns when they become exposed to yeast during birth as a result of the mother’s hormones. The condition can be prevented by avoiding certain known risk factors such as:

  • Medications which interrupt the body’s natural Candida production
  • Illnesses

Certain medications, antibiotics in particular, can alter the balance of yeast and may lead to an overproduction resulting in infection. Avoid taking antibiotics unless advised by a physician if you are breastfeeding. Babies with a weakened immune system or who are ill are more susceptible to developing thrush.

The yeast which causes thrush can be passed on to others through direct contact. In breastfeeding mothers, it can be passed on from the baby to mom during feedings causing a yeast infection of the nipples. Likewise, the mother can pass it back to the baby. In infants and toddlers, it can be spread by sharing toys or touching anything that was in the infected child’s mouth.

What to do

In most cases medication is not necessary for treatment when your baby has thrush. It clears up within a few weeks and may not cause any problems in infants. If your infant is having difficulty eating call your physician. A physical exam by either a physician or a dentist can confirm if it is thrush and a medication may be prescribed known as Nystatin which is applied directly onto the affected area. In addition, acetaminophen may be advised to help with pain. Just be sure to check the dosage guidelines for your baby’s age and weight.

If you are breastfeeding and your baby has thrush you should allow your nipples to air dry completely to avoid the spread of the infection. Your doctor may advise applying the Nystatin medication to your nipples. Clean and sanitize your breast pump parts as well if you are pumping.

Be sure to clean and sterilize your baby’s toys, bottles, and anything they put in their mouth. Thrush does not generally cause any severe or life-threatening risks and will clear up on its own. Consult your physician if your baby’s condition worsens or lasts longer than a week.

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