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Baby Has a 'White' Tongue? That May Not Be Milk Residue
PHOTO BY @ysuel/iStock
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • You've probably noticed times when your newborn baby's tongue is covered with white patches and dismissed this as milk residue. You may have tried to wipe or brush it off, to no avail. If this is the case, and you notice that your child is a bit fussier when he's sucking on his bottle or when you're breastfeeding him, then he may have what doctors call thrush.

    What is thrush?

    Thrush is a type of infection that is caused by a yeast or fungus called candida albicans. It is usually not a serious condition and is quite common among babies, but it can cause your baby discomfort, especially when feeding. 

    How do I know if my baby has it?

    As mentioned above, thrush may be present if your baby has white patches on his tongue, palate, or the walls of the mouth. These white patches usually cover red lesions that bleed easily. Babies who are infected may also experience discomfort and pain, and thus may be less enthusiastic about feeding.

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    What causes thrush?

    The Candida fungus is usually present in the mouth. Accoding to Medical News Today, due to factors like an under-developed immune system, as in the case of babies, it can become a full-blown infection.

    In other cases, the yeast infection could have been picked up by vaginally-born babies as they passed through the birth canal, according to What to Expect. Candida can be commonly found in the vagina, and factors like medication or hormonal changes could trigger an infection.


    Who may get it?

    Usually, newborns and babies up to two months old are susceptible to thrush. Older babies who have been taking medication may also get it. 

    Babies may also pass on the infection to their moms when they breastfeed, especially if the nipple area is not properly dried after feeding. An infected nipple may feel sore, burning, or itchy.

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    How is thrush treated?

    Once properly diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe an anti-fungal cream that should be applied inside your baby's mouth for 10 days to 2 weeks. Others have to resort to an oral medication for more severe cases.

    Similary, to treat nipple thrush, an anti-fungal cream may be prescribed by your doctor. It is still possible to breastfeed your baby even during the period you're being treated.

    Preventing thrush

    Unless your baby was delivered by C-section, there is no way to avoid picking up the infection when he is born. But you can prevent such instances in the future by doing the following:

    - Clean all bottles and nipples thoroughly, then sterilize.

    - Change nursing pads regularly.

    - Choose bras that allow your skin to breathe. Wash them frequently.

    - Clean your nipples after every breastfeeding session, and allow the area to dry.

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