An umbilical hernia is soft tissue that has pushed through the belly button. It is common in newborns.
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A hernia is caused by a weakness in the belly wall. The muscles of the baby’s belly do not close tightly around the belly button. This causes soft tissue to poke out through the opening.
This problem is more common in Black babies. Other things that may raise the risk are:
This problem does not cause symptoms often. A bulge may be seen around the belly button. This may happen when the baby cries, coughs, or passes stool.
The doctor will ask about the baby's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will make the diagnosis based on the exam.
Most hernias will close on their own within the first 5 years of life.
Sometimes a hernia does not close. Surgery will be done to put the tissue back into place. Surgery may also be needed for hernias that are causing problems, such as blocking the intestine or blood flow. These will need surgery right away.
There are no current guidelines to prevent an umbilical hernia.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
Canadian Association of General Surgeons
Pediatric umbilical hernia repair. American College of Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.facs.org/~/media/files/education/patient%20ed/pediatricumbilical.ashx. Accessed December 15, 2020.
Umbilical cord care. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthychildren.org website. Available at: https://healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/bathing-skin-care/Pages/Umbilical-Cord-Care.aspx. Accessed December 15, 2020.
Umbilical hernia in infants and children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
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Accessed December 15, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC
Last Updated: 6/4/2021