A groin hernia happens when soft tissue pushes through a weak spot in the wall of the belly. Sometimes the tissue also passes down a canal that links the scrotum to the abdominal area. It is called the inguinal canal.
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Causes may be:
Groin hernias are more common in boys. They are also more common in babies that are born very early.
The most common symptom is a bulge in the groin. It may be easier to see this bulge when a child is crying. The child may also show signs of pain.
Hernias can sometimes get caught in the abdominal wall. This is called a strangulated hernia. Symptoms may be:
A strangulated hernia needs emergency care.
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
Images may be taken if the diagnosis is not certain. This can be done with an ultrasound.
Groin hernias are repaired with surgery. Babies born very early may not have surgery until later.
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Groin hernia in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/groin-hernia-in-children. Accessed December 16, 2020.
Inguinal hernia. Cincinnati Children’s website. Available at:
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Accessed December 16, 2020.
Wang K. Assessment and Management of Inguinal Hernia in Infants. Pediatrics. 2012 Oct;130(4):768-773.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC
Last Updated: 5/28/2021