Problems of infancy

Mouth troubles in babies


Thrush is a mild fungus infection of the mouth. It looks as if patches  of milk scum were stuck to the cheeks and tongue and roof of the mouth. But, unlike scum, it does not wipe off easily. If you do rub it off, the underlying skin bleeds slightly and looks inflamed. Thrush usually makes babies' mouths sore. They show the discomfort when they are trying to nurse. It even occurs in babies who are taken care of to perfection. If you suspect it, consult the doctor promptly for diagnosis and treatment. If there is a delay in getting medical advice,it is helpful to have the baby drink half an ounce of  boiled water that's been allowed to cool, or suck it from a piece of sterile absorbent cotton, after the  milk. This washes the milk out of the mouth and gives the thrush fungus less to live on.

Don't be fooled by the color of the inner sides of the gums where the upper molar teeth are going to be. The skin color here is normally very pale, and is sometimes mistaken for thrush by mothers who are on the lookout for it.

Cysts on the gums and the roof of the mouth

Some babies have one or two little pearly white cysts on the sharp edge of their gums. They may make you think of teeth, but they are too round and they don't make a click on a spoon. Similar cysts can often be seen on the roof of the mouth, along the ridge that runs fromfront to back. They have no importance and eventually disappear.

Eye troubles in babies

Discharge and tearing of the eye

Many babies develop a mild inflammation in the eyes a few days after birth. This is probably caused by an immature tear duct which is often partially obstructed. It doesn't require any treatment, as it usually clears by itself.

There is another kind of very mild but chronic infection of the eyelids that develops off and on in the early months in quite a number of babies, most commonly in only one eye. The eye waters and tears excessively, particularly in windy weather. White matter collects in the corner of the eye and along the edges of the lids. This discharge may keep the lids stuck together when the baby first wakes up. The condition is caused by an obstructed tear duct. 

The tear duct leads to a small opening at the inner corner of the eyelids, first toward the nose, then down the side of the eye socket and into the nose cavity. When this duct is partly plugged, the tears are not drained off as fast as they form. They well up in the eye and run down the cheek. The lids keep getting mildly infected, just because the eye is not being cleansed sufficiently by the tears. The doctor should see the eyes and make the diagnosis. 
The first thing to realize about this condition is that it is fairly common, not serious, and does not injure the eye. It may last for many months.

What mommies should do  

When the lids are stuck together, you can soften the crust and open them by gently applying water with your fingers or a clean washcloth. The doctor sometimes advises massage of the duct, but don't do this without a doctor's directions.

If the baby has an inflammation that makes the whites of the eyes look bloodshot or even pink, it is probably an infection, and the doctor should be called promptly.

Text source: Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care -Beanjamin Spock and Michael Rothenberg