Understanding an Umbilical Hernia

What is an Umbilical Hernia?

When a baby is inside of its mother's womb, they are connected with the umbilical cord. The cord is attached to the baby by passing through the babies stomach muscles via a minuscule hole. This hole in the stomach closes shortly after the baby is born. When the muscles do not join quickly, there is a potential for tissues such as the intestine to bulge through the hole. When this occurs, it is referred to as an umbilical hernia.

As many of 20 percent of babies have umbilical hernias, and roughly 90% of these will eventually close without needing any medical attention. Most of the time, these hernias do not cause the child any discomfort or pain. Should a child reach the age of four without the hernia closing on its own, it may be time for medical intervention.

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When You Have An Umbilical Hernia

Umbilical Hernia Common Signs and Symptoms

The presence of an umbilical hernia becomes apparent whenever a baby laughs, cries or strains to relieve themselves. An umbilical hernia will present as a visible bulge located near the umbilical region. This bulge will not be present when the baby is relaxed. It is possible for an adult to develop a hernia as well, and the symptoms are the same. The swollen bulge located near the navel has the potential to be very painful, and treatment will need to be performed.

If you or your baby is experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be due to something more serious than a hernia, and medical attention should be immediately sought.

  • A baby in obvious pain and discomfort
  • A baby who is vomiting
  • The bulge is more swollen than is typical, has become discolored or tender.

When Should Surgery be Considered?

90% of the time an umbilical hernia will close on its own and cause no further complications. Because this is the case, doctors often choose to wait until a hernia does cause complications to suggest surgery. Indications that it is time to consider a surgical approach are if the size has grown to a half inch in diameter, it is painful, the size has not receded after one year of waiting, is not gone by the time a child turns four, or it is causing complications to the intestines.

Umbilical Hernia Repair Options
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