What’s an umbilical hernia?

belly-buttonThis common hernia in infants usually appears as a soft lump or bulge beneath the navel. You may see it most clearly when your baby is crying, pushing her belly outward. It occurs when a portion of the intestine bulges through the abdominal wall. This happens when the muscles in the area fail to close around the belly button after the umbilical cord falls off.  It appears to be more common in girls, particularly African Americans, or premature babies.

While the sight of this may cause you to panic, it’s usually nowhere near as bad as you may think.  The good news is that umbilical hernias usually aren’t serious or painful to the baby and they go away without treatment by the fifth birthday, often much sooner.  But if you suspect your baby has a hernia, you must call your child’s provider and have it properly diagnosed.  It will be important to monitor it for changes over time. If it enlarges or if you see swelling, severe pain, vomiting and/or your baby exhibits extreme weakness, call your child’s provider right away as a serious complication could exist.  If surgery is required, it’s usually a quick fix.

By the way, old folk remedies for treating umbilical hernias were to snuggly wrap the abdomen or tape a coin over the area.  These approaches don’t work and can actually cause harm.  Just keep an eye on it and keep your child’s provider updated.

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3 Responses to “What’s an umbilical hernia?”

  1. hernia Says:

    What is an endoscopic hernia operation?

  2. Lindsay Says:

    Endoscopic surgery is minimally invasive. Endoscopic surgery uses scopes going through small incisions or natural body openings in order to diagnose and treat disease. It sometimes is referred to a “keyhole surgery.” Endoscopic hernia repair would mean not having to open the body cavity like traditional surgery requires. Here’s a link to information on understanding endoscopic surgery: http://bit.ly/8WinZQ

  3. Amy Coats Says:

    What type of harm can be caused by using a belt or ace bandage over an umbilical hernia? I was told that GI doctors hate that folk remedy, but I was not told why. Thank you