Thrush in a baby's mouth is a yeast infection. A yeast infection is a fungal infection, but not all fungi are yeasts.
A yeast called Candida albicans causes thrush. There are many candida species, but albicans causes most human infections and is almost always the cause of thrush.
Thrush infects newborn babies up to three to four weeks old. As a baby grows, he or she will no longer be susceptible to thrush. Healthy adults and children with normal immune systems should not get thrush.
A baby's mouth is more apt to become infected with thrush if rubber nipples are handled carelessly. But it also occurs in babies that are very well taken care of.
If you suspect it, consult the doctor promptly for diagnosis and treatment. If there is delay in getting medical advice, it is helpful to have the baby drink half an ounce of boiled water that has been allowed to cool, or suck it from a piece of sterile absorbent cotton, after the milk. This washes the milk out of the mouth and gives the thrush fungus less to live on.
Babies may also be infected during delivery if the mother has a vaginal yeast infection. They can get thrush from mother's or family member's hands. Sometimes it spreads in newborn nurseries from an infected baby to other babies through caregivers' contaminated hands.
Newborns of diabetic mothers are more susceptible to thrush. Babies born with such birth defects as cleft lip or cleft palate are at risk of developing persistent thrush. These babies need to be carefully watched and treated if thrush develops.
Extremely premature babies who receive long-term intravenous feedings sometimes die from a fungal infection in their blood, but it is not yeast.
Thrush looks as if patches of milk scum were stuck to the cheeks and tongue and roof of the mouth, but unlike scum, it does not wipe off easily. If you do rub it off, the underlying skin bleeds slightly and looks inflamed. Thrush usually makes babies' mouths sore. They show the discomfort when they are trying to nurse.
If the baby seems to have a sore mouth or is uncomfortable feeding, check the mouth for thrush. The yeast grows in the baby's mouth and is apparent on the cheeks and tongue, and later on the roof of the mouth.
Treatment consists of coating the baby's mouth with a medicine such as nystatin suspension or miconazole of clotrimazole gels three to four times a day for five to seven days. Mothers with symptoms of yeast infections should be treated in their last three months of pregnancy.
In the rare case where this treatment fails, a single dose of the oral fungicide Diflucan can be used.
Thrush is easy to treat and is harmless if treated properly.
Thrush found in the mouth of children over 6 months of age may indicate an immune deficiency, and should be checked by a physician.
Is the infection thrush?
Will you prescribe medication?
Is there anything that can be done to help with the baby's discomfort?
What precautions should be taken during feeding?
When will the infection be cleared up?
It is best not to let family members and visitors put their fingers in the new baby's mouth. If you are bottle-feeding, make sure that you boil the bottles and nipples and wash your hands before feeding the baby.