Candida (thrush) is a fungus that lives in the gastrointestinal tract, the mucous membranes of the respiratory system and the female genital tract, where it normally does no harm. It only causes infection if it becomes overgrown.
Newborns are exposed to candida via vaginal childbirth which then colonizes in their intestines. If the mother has an overgrowth of candida at the time of the birth, the baby can get thrush.
Babies can also get thrush from close contact with family members. If the baby has diaper rash, it can cause candida to grow faster as the fungus likes irritated and wet skin, making it an ideal environment for it.
Candida can also infect the mouth (this is called oral thrush) and can sometimes occur in breastfeeding babies when they nurse at the breast of an infected mother.
Candida can cause infectious mastitis in mothers. If the milk ducts become blocked, the milk that remains in the tissue may become infected.
Toddlers can also get oral thrush around their fingernails if they suck their thumbs. It can occur in outbreaks in daycare centers and other childcare settings and are thought to be the result of the increased use of antibiotics.
Antibiotics disrupt the natural flora of a person, leading to overgrowth of microbes and can increase the likelihood of getting thrush.
Genital thrush can be treated with nystatin cream, an anti-fungal cream. If it is oral thrush, it can be treated with a medicine called miconazole, but you should not give this to babies less than four months old due to the risk of choking.
If the oral thrush is mild, it may not need treatment as most mild infections go away on their own.
You can rebalance your baby’s intestinal flora with good bacteria that "eat up" the bad bacteria. Special baby probiotics can be added to the baby’s breast milk, formula, juice or water. Please check the product instructions to make sure it is suitable for your baby’s age.
Taking vitamin C (500-1,000 mgs a day), vitamin E (200-400 IUs a day) and selenium (200 mcg a day) will help reduce inflammation and improve your immune system.