Umbilical Hernia

What is an Umbilical Hernia?

An umbilical hernia happens when intestine , fat, or fluid pushes through a weak spot or hole in your baby’s stomach muscles. This causes a bulge near or in the belly button, or navel. It may look like your child’s belly button is swollen.

Many children have an umbilical hernia at birth. The hernia usually is not painful or dangerous, and it often closes on its own without treatment.

What causes an umbilical hernia?

The ring of muscle and other tissue that forms where blood vessels in the umbilical cord enter a fetus's body is known as the umbilical ring. This ring usually closes before the baby is born. If it does not close, tissue may bulge through the opening, creating an umbilical hernia.

Experts don't know why the hole sometimes doesn't close.

What are the symptoms?

You may not notice your child has an umbilical hernia until the umbilical cord stump falls off a few days to a few weeks after birth. At this time:

  • You may notice a soft bulge under the skin of your child’s belly button.

  • You may be able to push part of the hernia back in.

  • The bulge may be easier to see when your child sits or stands upright or strains stomach muscles during normal activities such as crying, coughing, or having a bowel movement.

Umbilical hernias can vary in size. They are rarely bigger than about 1in. across.

Talk to your doctor
if your child is vomiting and has signs of infection, such as redness and swelling within the bulge of the hernia.

How is an umbilical hernia diagnosed?

Doctors usually can tell that a child has an umbilical hernia by how the belly looks. If your child has a hernia, your doctor will check its size and shape and see whether the hernia can be pushed back in.

How is it treated?

Umbilical hernias usually close on their own before a baby is 1 year old. If a hernia has not closed by the time your child is 5 years old, your child probably will need surgery to close it.

Umbilical hernias may close more slowly in African-American children.

You may want your child to have surgery before he or she is age 5 if:

  • The hernia is large and has not closed by age 2.

  • There is another problem, such as an infection.

  • The way the hernia looks bothers you or your child.

Do not use folk remedies, such as strapping a coin over the hernia or using a band or a strap to try to make it smaller. These do not help and may make the hernia worse.

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