Your baby is especially susceptible to viruses and bacteria because his or her immune system has not yet fully developed. Whereas adult bodies can fight certain infections before the symptoms even begin, a baby’s body will be quickly overcome by such conditions. One such infection is called oral thrush. Oral thrush is common, and it is the overgrowth of a fungus called Candida albicans. This fungus is the same that causes vaginal yeast infections and diaper rashes.
Adults don’t get oral thrush unless they are taking antibiotics or they are undergoing heavy treatment such as chemotherapy. Seniors are also particularly susceptible. That is because only in those scenarios is the adult immune system compromised. Babies are born with Candida albicans in their system, but their bodies cannot regulate it as easily as those of adults. It’s most common in babies less than six months of age.
If your baby has oral thrush, he or she probably won’t even notice. However, you will see white patches on the tongue and lips, or growths that look like cottage cheese on the inside of the cheeks. Unfortunately, thrush can easily be passed on to your nipples if you’re breastfeeding, so it’s important that you seek treatment immediately. Nipple thrush will cause you pain while breastfeeding, cracks in our nipples, a red, shiny areola and shooting pain. Your baby’s oral thrush might go away on its own without treatment, but if it is passed on to your breast, you will continue to swap the infection back and forth indefinitely.
Treatment will include an antifungal cream or a lactobacilli yogurt if your baby is old enough. Especially if you’re breastfeeding, it’s important that you take the proper measures to prevent oral thrush. Be diligent in cleaning your baby’s pacifiers and bottles in hot water so that the fungus cannot live on the plastic. That way, even if your baby came into contact with it once, it will not reappear the next time he or she uses a bottle or a pacifier.
Oral thrush is common, so don’t panic if you notice that your baby has acquired it. However, you should make sure it is treated as soon as possible so that it doesn’t become nipple thrush as a result of your breastfeeding. Treatment doesn’t take long once the condition is diagnosed, and your baby will be back to perfect health and breastfeeding in no time.
Source: Wendy Jones et al: Thrush And Breastfeeding: Identifying And Treating Thrush In Breastfeeding Mothers And Babies. Community Practitioner Volume 83 Issue 10 October 2010