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Oral thrush is a common name for oral candidiasis which is an infection of the mouth by a fungus known as Candida albicans. Oral thrush can be transmitted through breastfeeding or by kissing.1
Generally, the fungus Candida albicans is present in most of us and is considered to be good flora as it contributes to our wellbeing. At times, there might arise situations wherein Candida albicans grows and multiplies beyond the normal limit. It is in such situations that infection sets in.
Oral thrush is quite common in newborns. While certain cases go away on their own in some days, there might be situations which require proper medical intervention.
In newborns, oral thrush can make a baby cranky at feeding time, often making the baby lose appetite altogether. Oral thrush in newborns can be identified by the typical cottage cheese like coating on the tongue and at the insides of the cheeks.2
Other symptoms of oral thrush in newborns include cracking at the corner of the mouth, making it difficult as well as painful for the baby to latch on to the mother's breast or the nipple of a bottle.
Medical treatment of oral thrush in babies usually involves the application of an antifungal mouth paint directly to the tongue and the insides of the cheeks.
However, there are certain home remedies and other things that you can do to alleviate your baby's discomfort. Do keep in mind to always consult with your paediatrician before trying out any alternative treatment on your baby.
Here, we will see certain tried and tested home solutions for oral thrush in babies.
1. Unsweetened Yoghurt
Mild thrush can be cured by giving your baby unsweetened yoghurt. While Candida albicans is not destroyed as such by the yoghurt, a healthy balance of good bacteria is nonetheless promoted in the mouth of your baby.
Give unsweetened yoghurt only if the baby is old enough to be taking solid foods.
2. Limit Sugar Intake
If you are a breastfeeding mother, try to limit your own sugar intake. Clinical studies have established a link between glucose and the growth of candida in the saliva in the mouth.3
With the mother moderating her daily sugar intake, there will be a lesser amount of glucose for the baby during feeding, thereby controlling the intensity of oral thrush in the baby's mouth.
3. Treatment Of The Mother
Often, the underlying cause for oral thrush in a baby can be traced to the breastfeeding mother herself. A study found Candida to be present in the mouths of 34.55% of infants that were exclusively breastfed. Candida was found in the mouths of about 66.67% of strictly bottle-fed infants.4
The same study found the presence of Candida on the breasts of around 34.55% of lactating women.5
Information collected from the study highlighted the widespread colonization of Candida fungus, both on the breasts of lactating mothers as well as oral cavities of the infants.6
If you are a breastfeeding mother and experience soreness or discomfort in your nipples while breastfeeding, it is best to get yourself checked by your doctor for candida. You might unknowingly be causing your baby's oral thrush.
4. Maintain Proper Hygiene
Always ensure that everything that comes in contact with your baby is thoroughly clean and hygienic. Carefully clean the nipples of the bottles and pacifiers before and after every use.
Also, try and keep your baby from putting fingers or any toys in the mouth.
Newborns have a developing immune system. While instances of oral thrush in newborns are quite common, they generally subside and clear out on their own within some days. In some cases, treatment might be needed if the baby is experiencing great discomfort or unable to feed properly.
Home remedies like unsweetened yoghurt might help too. However, never give your baby anything in the name of treatment without first discussing with your doctor.
We can never be too cautious where a baby is involved. Even a simple home remedy might affect your baby adversely. Always consult with a qualified doctor.