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Umbilical Hernia-Child

(Hernia, Umbilical)

Definition

An abdominal hernia is soft tissue that has pushed through the abdominal wall. An umbilical hernia is an abdominal hernia through the belly button. They are common in newborns.

Most umbilical hernias will not need treatment. Some will require surgery. Immediate medical attention is rarely required.

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Causes    TOP

During pregnancy, the umbilical cord passes from the mother to the baby through a small opening in the baby’s abdomen. A weakness in the abdomen occurs when the muscles of the baby’s abdomen do not completely close after birth. The weakness can cause abdominal tissue to push through the belly button.

Risk Factors    TOP

Umbilical hernias in infants are more common in African American infants. Risk factors for any infant include:

  • Genetics
  • Premature birth
  • Birth weight under 3.5 pounds (1,500 grams)

Symptoms    TOP

There are usually no symptoms associated with an umbilical hernia.

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your baby's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

An umbilical hernia can be diagnosed by a physical exam.

Treatment    TOP

In most infants, an umbilical hernia will go away on its own as the baby develops. This is usually within the first few years of life.

Persistent small hernias that do not cause symptoms may not need treatment. You and your doctor will watch the hernia to make sure new problems do not develop.

Large hernias or those causing symptoms will require additional care. For example:

  • Rarely, a loop of intestine becomes trapped in the abdominal wall. This may lead to a blockage of the intestine.
  • Strangulation can also occur if the hernia is slowing or blocking blood flow. A strangulated hernia is a medical emergency.

These conditions may require surgery to place dislocated tissue back in place and close damaged wall.

Prevention    TOP

There are no current guidelines to prevent an umbilical hernia.

RESOURCES:

American College of Surgeons
http://www.facs.org
American Society of General Surgeons
http://www.theasgs.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Canadian Association of General Surgeons
http://www.cags-accg.ca

References:

Hernias of the abdominal wall. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated June 2014. Accessed June 6, 2016.
Umbilical hernia in infants and children. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated November 16, 2013. Accessed June 6, 2016.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 6/24/2013

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