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What causes thrush (candidiasis) in newborns?

what causes thrush of the mouth in newborns

Curious what causes thrush in the mouth of babies?

One of the first signs of a baby thrush infection is fussing and unsettled behavior during feeding.

Baby thrush is painless in the beginning. But if it is not treated it can spread to the lips and even the esophagus causing baby great discomfort.

Because of their sore mouth some babies will suddenly refuse bottle or breastfeeding.


What does thrush look like?

When you examine your infant’s mouth you can see a white coating on the inside of the mouth, on the gums, tongue and throat. Baby mouth thrush or oral thrush is caused by a yeast called Candida Albicans.



What causes thrush in babies?

First of all, baby’s immune system is not well developed yet, therefore making him or her more susceptible to the thrush fungus.

Secondly, antibiotics may cause an imbalance of the natural flora or bacteria of the body. This may happen if your baby takes for example antibiotics for an ear infection.

Finally,if mother uses much sugar in her diet. Sugar provides the right environment for the thrush fungus.


What causes thrush on the nipples of nursing mothers?

Is thrush contagious when you are breastfeeding?
Yes, oral thrush in newborns is easily passed between mother and baby during breastfeeding. Mother and child should therefore both be treated to prevent them from repeatedly infecting each other.

If a pregnant woman has a vaginal infection caused by Candida, babies can also get infected during birth. For this reason it is important that any vaginal infection in the last trimester of pregnancy is treated.

Last, your baby may also have a thrush diaper rash due to the fungus passing from the infant’s mouth through the intestines.


Thrush and Breastfeeding.

Should you give up breastfeeding? No, even though nipples can be red, cracked and sore you should try to continue breastfeeding.

If the breastfeeding is very painful try to use a nipple shield. With the right treatment for mother and baby things will soon improve. Besides one of the benefits of breastfeeding is that it builds your baby’s immune system and protects him from viruses, bacteria and protozoa.


Prevention of oral thrush in mom and baby

For Baby:

  • After feeding rinse baby’s mouth with water to take away any milk residue.
  • Sterilize bottles and pacifiers.
  • Wash teethers and toys and everything that has been in contact with baby’s mouth with soap.
  • If baby is on antibiotics you can apply some acidophilus powder with a clean finger to the inside of baby’s mouth. This will restore the natural flora in baby’s mouth.

Prevention of breastfeeding thrush.

For mother:

  • Hygiene is very important. Make a habit of washing your hands before and after breastfeeding.
  • You can rinse your nipples with a vinegar and water solution.
  • Let your nipples air dry between feedings.
  • Use nursing pads without a plastic barrier to prevent the fungus to grow.
  • Wear 100% cotton nursing bras.
  • Wash nursing bras and breast pumps with very hot water and soap.

Eating lots of yoghurt will restore the natural flora in your body. If you don’t like yoghurt you can also take acidophilus capsules.


The thrush fungus thrives in a warm and moist environment. Knowing this and what causes thrush makes it easier to prevent thrush in your newborn baby.


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