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Umbilical hernias in your baby

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
umbilical hernia, newborn baby, premature baby
Sophie is a premature baby and such a cutie. Her mum gave me permission to use her photos to talk about a really common issue - Umbilical hernia.

Premature babies tend to be more likely to get an umbilical hernia but it can affect term babies too.


So what is an umbilical hernia?

An umbilical hernia is very common in babies and children. It appears as a small soft lump near the umbilicus (navel or belly-button). It usually causes no problems and goes away as the child grows.
    • A hernia is the lump that appears when part of the body pushes through an opening or weak spot in a muscle wall.
    • This happens most often around the abdomen (tummy area):

        • an inguinal hernia (in the groin)

        • a hiatus hernia (where part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm into the chest area)

        • an umbilical hernia.
    • An umbilical hernia happens when the muscles around the umbilicus (belly button) have a gap between them, so that part of the gut or other tissue in the abdomen can poke through particularly when pressure in the tummy rises (such as when a child cries or coughs). This can be pushed easily back into the tummy, but it does not matter if some usually stays pushed through the hernia.

    • An umbilical hernia is quite common in young children, when the muscles are relatively weak, but a lot less common in older children and young adults because the muscles become stronger, closing off the gap.

Most of them resolve spontaneously (without treatment)

Some may need surgery. Most doctors wait till the baby is 1-2 years old before deciding on operating or not. Sophie is not 6 months and hers has nearly gone. Some hernias may still be present by 4-5 years old. If its not painful and not causing any problems (few do) then its a wait and see approach.

They make look a 'bit funny' and you may be able to feel the bowel gurgling under it but its OK! The practice of strapping and binding them has stopped and doesn't work/help.

A big thank you to Renee and Sophie for this blog. I hope it's helped reassure a few worried parents out there.

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