The exact reason for thrush cannot be identified. After a baby is born, antibiotics taken by a mother (if she is breastfeeding) can trigger a case of thrush. That is because the antibiotics kill off the “good” bacteria that keep yeast in check. The baby can pass thrush on to the mother and if she is breastfeeding, it can result in a painful yeast infection on her nipples. Some mothers remain unaffected even while she is breastfeeding a child with thrush –and some breastfed babies are not affected by their mother’s yeast infection.
The baby’s mouth and the mother’s nipples are perfect places for yeast infection because yeast thrives best in warm, moist areas. Babies who are not breastfed may also get it due to prolonged sucking of a pacifier or a bottle. Some babies and some mothers are more susceptible than the others.
The mother may first suspect thrush if the baby starts crying when nursing or sucking on a pacifier or bottle. If the baby has thrush, white patches will appear on the baby’s tongue or on the sides of the mouth. It will not come off easily with a gauze-covered finger. If there is just a white coating on the baby’s tongue that can be wiped off, it is probably just milk residue.
Some precautionary measures:
- All bottles and feeding equipment, and toys that the baby might put in his/her mouth like teething rings must be cleaned and sterilized.
- Baby’s clothes must be washed with warm water to kill the fungus.
- If the mother is breastfeeding, nipples should be washed with water and dried thoroughly between feeds.
Thrush is not usually linked with any other illness and clears up within a few days. It may not bother the baby, but if the mouth is sore she may be reluctant to feed.