infant thrushYeast is part of the human digestive system. Infants often come in contact with yeast for the first time during vaginal delivery. They can also come in contact with yeast while breastfeeding. Immediately after birth hormones in your infant’s body can cause an overgrowth of yeast. This overgrowth may lead to thrush. Thrush can affect infants, children and adults. Oral thrush appears inside the mouth, but yeast can also cause external infections.

Causes of Infant Thrush

Yeast is the cause of thrush. When yeast bacteria grow faster than good bacteria aimed at controlling yeast growth, thrush develops. Breastfeeding infants may come in contact with yeast infection on the breast. Some mothers and infants pass the yeast infection back and forth until the yeast infection clears up for good.

Thrush can also be sparked if mom takes antibiotics immediately after birth or any time during the first six months. Though older infants can develop thrush, it is more common in younger infants. 

Symptoms of Infant Thrush

The first symptom of infant thrush most new moms recognize is thick, white skin with patches that look like ricotta or cottage cheese. The white patches cannot be removed with a wash cloth or gauze and forcibly removing thrush may cause bleeding. Other symptoms of thrush may include:

  • Changes in feeding habits.
  • Difficultly latching or sucking.
  • Sore mouth or tongue.
  • Diaper rash or yeast infection in the diaper.

Do All Babies Get Thrush?

No, not all infants develop thrush, but thrush is common and can affect both bottle-fed and breastfed infants. Yeast associated with thrush is also passed out of the body in infant stool. You may not notice an oral thrush infection, but your infant may develop a rash associated with the same yeast bacteria that causes thrush.

Treatments for Infant Thrush

Antifungal medications are available to treat infant thrush. If the breast is infected with yeast, the doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream mom and apply to the breast to cure the infection and prevent further infant thrush. Just because thrush is cured with an antifungal does not mean the infection will never return. 

Can Baby Pass the Infection to my Breast?

Baby can pass a yeast infection from mouth to breast while breastfeeding. Many moms and infants pass the yeast infection back and forth before being successfully treated. In some cases, mom will not be affected by the yeast infection or vice versa. Any suspected yeast infection of the breasts or nipples should be treated to prevent infant thrush.