Thrush (candidiasis/ yeast infection) is an inflammatory disease caused by the yeast-like fungi Candida. The disease is more common in newborns and children of the first year of life, but may also occur at an older age. In children, this fungus most often affects the mucous membrane of the oral cavity, as well as the genitals, less often the internal organs.
Baby yeast infection is expressed in the appearance of white bloom, similar to curdled milk, under which there may be red foci of inflammation or bleeding erosion. Usually, it takes place on the mucous membrane, most often in the oral cavity.
Why Does Baby Yeast Infection Appear?
The causative agents of thrush are fungi of the genus Candida, which are present in the air and on the surface of any object, including food. Therefore, the infection can be transmitted by air, through food, upon contact, etc. In limited quantities, these fungi are present in the human body.
With a decrease in immunity, hormonal changes, prolonged use of antibiotics, or dysbacteriosis, the human body ceases to restrain its reproduction, which causes inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes. Candida feeds on sugar, releasing toxins that reduce the body’s immune properties. Therefore, with thrush, it is desirable to reduce the consumption of sweet, flour, fat, increasing the proportion of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain bread in the diet.
The main cause of baby yeast infection is a strain of Candida albicans (white). Of the variety of known types of fungi of this genus, strains of Candida lusitanlae, Candida glabrata, and Candida krusei, which are resistant to certain antifungal drugs, are especially dangerous.
How can a Baby Get Infected?
Baby yeast infection can be transmitted to the baby from an infected mother. During childbirth, up to 70% of children become infected with the fungus from mothers, regardless of whether the birth was carried out through the birth canal or by cesarean section.
In case of defects in care, the pathogen can get to the baby from the hands of maternity hospital staff or from an infected mother.
In newborns, yeast infection can affect the umbilical cord and the skin. However, most often the fungus multiplies in the oral cavity. It can get there in case of insufficient sterilization of spoons, bottles, teats, etc.
Also, thrush in children can develop if the microflora of the body is impaired or the immunity is lowered, if the gastrointestinal tract is disturbed, hormonal changes occur, or when antibiotics are taken.
It is believed that one of the causes of baby yeast infection is a decrease in the protective properties of saliva: when the oral mucosa is dry, a favorable environment is created for the development of infection. This is primarily due to dust, excessively dry and warm air in the room, as well as due to overheating of the child and inadequate exposure to fresh air.
What’s the Danger of Baby Yeast Infection?
The appearance of candidiasis in itself is already a sign of impaired immunity – general or local. Baby yeast infection, like other infectious diseases, can spread through the skin and mucous membranes to other organs. Oral candidiasis with insufficient treatment can turn into a chronic form that can lead to the development of allergic reactions. As a result, a decrease in the immunity of the child may take place.
If you do not immediately consult a doctor, redness and inflammation may occur on the skin in the area of the diaper. Parents of girls should exclude the possibility of developing candidal lesions of the vagina. With inadequate treatment, the infection can go to the internal organs.
In addition, candidiasis may lead to sepsis (the spread of infection in the blood). In premature babies, due to the weakness of the immune system of the body, very serious complications are possible, including death.
How to Prevent Baby Yeast Infection?
First of all, the mother needs to make sure that she does not suffer from thrush herself. Usually, the analysis for candidiasis is carried out in the first weeks of pregnancy. In case of detection of the fungus, a course of treatment is carried out. Mothers should carefully examine the breast before feeding, and if you find symptoms of thrush, consult a doctor.
Another important rule of prevention is the thorough sterilization of items used for feeding the baby, as well as the personal hygiene of the mother if the baby is breastfed. Compliance with these recommendations will reduce the risk of baby yeast infection.
To prevent the growth of Candida fungi in a newborn baby, it is useful to include in the diet of a nursing mother yogurts containing live lactic acid cultures. Propolis, garlic, lingonberries, grapefruit, tea tree oil, walnut leaves, and hot red pepper also have antifungal effects, but remember that all these products are potential allergens for a child.
How to Treat Thrush?
Before starting treatment, consult a doctor. He will be able to assess the degree of spread of the fungus and find the right treatment, prescribing the right dose of medication. Obligatory examination and treatment should be given to a nursing mother in order to exclude the possibility of re-infection with a fungus. It is also important to remember: self-medication with the use of drugs is not an option and can be very dangerous.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.