Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Umbilical Hernia

Definition

  • A bulge or swelling in the area of the umbilicus (navel or belly button)

Call or Return If

  • Hernia appears to cause crying or pain
  • Unexplained vomiting occurs
  • Hernia turns red or painful to touch
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic

Symptoms

  • An umbilical hernia is a navel that bulges ('pops out') with crying, straining or coughing
  • The bulge may or may not go away when the baby is quiet
  • A small round opening (ring) can be felt in the muscles under the hernia
  • The hernia is always located right underneath the navel
  • Some hernias stay out all the time. Although they can be pushed in, they pop right back out.

Cause

  • A defect in the stomach wall that's present at birth and doesn't close
  • When pregnant, the umbilical cord's blood vessels go to the mother's placenta. They pass through this opening (ring). Normally, it closes off soon after birth.

After Care Advice

Overview:
  • Umbilical hernias are very common. They occur in 10 - 20% of children.
  • They are not painful and they never break.
  • They do bulge out more with crying, straining or after eating. Reason: Due to a full stomach. None of these make the hernia last any longer.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Treatment:
  • No treatment is needed.
  • Do not bother pushing the hernia back in. Reason: It's not needed and can irritate the skin.
Avoid:
  • Do not put tape, a coin, or "belly band" on the hernia.
  • Reason: This does not speed healing. It can lead to a skin rash or infection.
Reasons for Surgery to Close the Defect:
  • The hernia is very large and causes a cosmetic problem. For example, your child is teased about it.
  • The defect is larger than 1 inch (2.5 cm) across. (Reason: The smaller ones often will go on to close on their own.)
  • Child reaches age 4 and hernia is still present.
  • The hernia becomes stuck and causes pain or vomiting.
  • Any hernia that occurs higher up than the navel.
What to Expect:
  • Most close on their own before age 4 years.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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