Thrush is an infection in the mouth. It is caused by a yeast-like organism called Candida albicans. This condition is common in infants up to about 5 months of age. Because this organism is frequently found in the vagina, infants may get this infection from their mothers during delivery.
Your baby may develop white spots that look like milk curd on the insides of the cheeks or on the tongue. This may be thrush. The spots often bleed if you try to scrape them off. Thrush can make your baby's mouth sore and may cause feeding problems.
The same yeast infection can cause persistent diaper rash. Some babies have the infection both in their mouth and on their bottom. Thrush also can spread to your breasts if you breastfeed your baby. Rarely, a yeast infection can spread and cause a dangerous, widespread infection in babies who are very premature or have weakened immune systems.
Call your child's health care provider if you think your baby has thrush. Although mild cases often clear up on their own, many babies need antifungal medications. You usually apply these medications to the infected areas with a dropper or with your finger after a feeding. A baby with an infection in the diaper area can be treated with an antifungal ointment when a diaper is changed.
If your baby develops thrush and you are breastfeeding, ask your child's provider if you should use the same antifungal ointment on your breasts. This may help prevent passing the infection back and forth between your breast and your baby's mouth. You can continue breastfeeding during treatment. If you are bottle-feeding, be sure to sterilize or replace bottle nipples, as well as pacifiers, when your baby's infection starts to clear up.
Last reviewed: November, 2013