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New Beginnings (Pregnancy – Birth – Postpartum)

Thrush is a common infection that affects babies.  It is caused by a yeast infection in the mouth and may impact feeding and cause babies to become very fussy.  Yeast and other fungi live as commensals in our environment but certain things can cause them to overgrow such as heat, moisture and the availability of sugar to feed on.  Nursing babies who often have breast milk in their mouths make perfect feeding ground for Candida albicans, the species of yeast that causes common thrush.  At times this yeast infection can affect mom’s nipples and cause pain and cracking in the nipples.  As the infection travels between mom and baby, it can be exceedingly difficult to treat.

Thrush is often treated with an antifungal oral solution that gets rid of the offending yeast such as nystatin.  If it does not resolve, stronger antifungals such as fluconazole may be used.  It is important to also treat mom’s nipples to avoid the “ping pong “ effect of having the yeast get perpetuated.

There is also a purple vegetable dye called gentian violet that can be painted on baby’s tongue and mom’s nipples that has been shown to be effective.  The dye does stain everything so make sure you like the colour purple before using this.

Although thrush may not always be prevented, some interventions can help to keep it from coming back.  Wiping baby’s tongue and mouth with a damp clean washcloth may get rid of any lingering sugar and keep from feeding the yeast.  Keeping mom’s nipples open to air and dry after each feed can diminish thrush.  Finally the use of probiotics such as bio gaia for baby may have an impact in lessening the frequency of thrush.

The most authoritative guide to the prevention and treatment of thrush is available through Dr. Newman  from Toronto.  Dr. Newman is a pioneer and leader in the field of supporting women to breast feed their babies.  He has a wonderful website that is an invaluable resource for nursing moms and those who support them.  https://ibconline.ca/


Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and grandmother of one lovely princess! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!


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