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Must-know information about oral thrush in babies

Oral thrush in babies is fairly common. Paediatrician Dr. Pratibha Agarwal of Kinder Clinic in Singapore gives her expert opinion on this condition.

ora thrush in babies White patches on your baby's tongue may be caused by oral thrush, or may simple be milk residue.

If you have a young baby, you may have noticed white patches on his tongue or the inside of his mouth. Perhaps you thought these patches were milk residue. But did it ever cross your mind that these patches might be an indicator of oral thrush?

Before you panic, you probably need to know that oral thrush in babies in quite common and usually nothing to worry about. However, it's still worth being in the know about this condition.

Oral thrush in babies Oral thrush is quite common in newborns and young infants.

What is oral thrush and what causes it?

Oral thrush is a common infection in the mouth of newborns and young babies caused by a fungus called Candida Albicans.

According to medical experts at the National Health Service, UK (NHS), this fungus is present in the mouth of healthy people and it usually doesn’t cause problems. But sometimes, it can overgrow and infect the membranes in the mouth.

Oral thrush is particularly common in babies because their immature immune systems have less ability to fight infection. It can also occur if a baby has been recently treated with antibiotics. This is because the levels of “good” bacteria in your baby’s mouth are reduced by the antibiotics, allowing the growth of fungus levels.

Dr. Pratibha Agarwal, a consultant paediatrician for Kinder Clinic in Singapore, explains that oral thrush in babies may also occur more commonly when the mom has a vaginal fungal infection or if she’s been on antibiotics for a long time. This infection can then be passed on to her baby during breastfeeding if the mom’s nipples are affected, resulting in oral thrush.

Milk residue or oral thrush? Find out how to differentiate the two on the next page. 

Oral thrush in babies Oral thrush appears as white patches on your baby's tongue and inside his mouth.

Signs and symptoms of oral thrush

Oral thrush can present with the appearance of soft, white creamy patches on your baby’s tongue, the inside of the cheeks or the roof of the mouth, says Dr. Agarwal who also specialises in the care of high-risk newborns and children. Unlike milk residue, the patches do not rub off easily and may bleed when removed.

Some babies may not seem to be bothered by the patches. However, others may be reluctant to feed, keep detaching from the breast or be quite irritable, if they are in discomfort.

You may also notice a nappy rash on your baby at the same time you observe the symptoms of oral thrush in his mouth. This nappy rash may be caused by the same fungus and will have to be treated as well.

ora thrush in babies Oral thrush may cause discomfort in some babies.


Moms, you’ll be relieved to know that oral thrush in most instances, is not dangerous. Dr. Agarwal explains that oral thrush is very rarely harmful in very immunocompromised patients where it may result in a systemic disease that affects a number of organs and tissues.

The treatment of oral thrush may be in the form of an oral antifungal gel which is applied to the inside of the mouth. An antifungal suspension may also be prescribed to be taken orally.

Good hand hygiene helps prevent oral thrush in babies. Find out what other preventive measures you can take on the next page. 

ora thrush in babies Oral thrush can pass between a breastfeeding mom and her baby if it is not treated appropriately.


Here are some tips to help prevent the incidence of oral thrush in babies:

  • If a pregnant mom has a vaginal yeast infection, then, according to Dr. Agarwal, she should get treated for it in order to prevent transmitting the infection to the baby during the process of a normal birth.
  • If a breastfeeding mom has a fungal infection around the nipple area, she should also be simultaneously treated to prevent the infection from continuously passing to and fro between her and her baby.
  • If a child needs to be on prolonged antibiotics, taking probiotics may help restore the balance of oral and gut flora, therefore reducing the likelihood of a condition like oral thrush.
  • Wash your hands well after changing your little one’s diaper. This can help prevent the spread of thrush as the fungus can be passed through your baby’s digestive system.

Ultimately, oral thrush in babies is not something that you should be overly worried about. However, if you suspect your baby might have the condition, or if you are breastfeeding and you think you have nipple thrush, then it is best to see your doctor without delay.

Article originally published on: theAsianparent

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