Site Map

Thrush in newborns

Candidiasis - oral - newborn; Oral thrush - newborn; Fungal infection - mouth - newborn; Candida - oral - newborn

Thrush is a yeast infection of the tongue and mouth. This common infection can be passed between a mother and baby during breastfeeding.

I Would Like to Learn About:

Causes

Certain germs normally live in our bodies. While most germs are harmless, some can cause infection.

Thrush occurs when too much of a yeast called Candida albicans grows in a baby's mouth. Germs called bacteria and fungi naturally grow in our bodies. Our immune system helps keep these germs in check. But babies do not have fully-formed immune systems. That makes it easier for too much yeast (a type of fungus) to grow.

Thrush often occurs when mother or baby has taken antibiotics. Antibiotics treat infections from bacteria. They can also kill "good" bacteria, and this allows yeast to grow.

The yeast thrives in warm, moist areas. The baby's mouth and the mother's nipples are perfect places for a yeast infection.

Babies can also get a yeast infection on the diaper area at the same time. The yeast gets in the baby's stool and can cause a diaper rash.

Symptoms

Symptoms of thrush in the baby include:

Some babies may not feel anything at all.

Symptoms of thrush in the mother include:

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider can often diagnose thrush by looking at your baby's mouth and tongue. The sores are easy to recognize.

Treatment

Your baby might not need any treatment. Thrush often goes away on its own in a few days.

Your provider may prescribe antifungal medicine to treat thrush. You paint this medicine on your baby's mouth and tongue.

If you have a yeast infection on your nipples, your provider may recommend an over-the-counter or prescription antifungal cream. You put this on your nipples to treat the infection.

If both you and your baby have the infection, you both need to be treated at the same time. Otherwise, you can pass the infection back and forth.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Thrush in babies is very common and can easily be treated. Let your provider know if thrush keeps coming back. It may be a sign of another health issue.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Contact your provider if:

Prevention

You may not be able to prevent thrush, but these steps may help:

References

Balest AL, Riley MM, O'Donnell B, Zarit JS. Neonatology. In: Zitelli BJ, McIntire SC, Nowalk AJ, Garrison J, eds. Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 2.

Harrison GJ. Approach to infections in the fetus and newborn. In: Cherry JD, Harrison GJ, Kaplan SL, Steinbach WJ, Hotez PJ, eds. Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 66.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 12/12/2021  

Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo
Health Content Provider
06/01/2025

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2022 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.