Umbilical Hernia in Children: Cause and Symptoms


Umbilical hernia is common in babies, especially in premature babies. It occurs when a section of a fatty tissue or bowel pokes out through an area close to the belly button. Before delivery, the baby is connected to the mother through the umbilical cord. The cord passes through a small opening in the muscles of the stomach of the baby. After the baby is born, it closes on its own. In certain cases, the stomach muscles are not completely joined. The tissues and intestine comes out of this opening, resulting in umbilical hernia. Most of the time, it is painless and do not cause much discomfort and the hernia closes down on its own. Although it is easily treatable, it may turn out to be dangerous at times. If you find that the hernia is not getting cured by the time your child turns four, you should consult a doctor.

Causes of Umbilical Hernia

Umbilical hernia may occur in babies as well as adults. When it occurs in adults, females are more prone to it than males. In babies, the causes of umbilical hernia include:

Being overweight

Being overweight increases the chances of having umbilical hernia. It is caused when the tissues inside the stomach comes out through the stomach, finding a weak section. In overweight children, the pressure exerted on the stomach is more in comparison to people with slim figures. Evidently, it increases the possibility of umbilical hernia.

Persistent and heavy cough

Children suffering from persistent cough, are likely to develop umbilical hernia. Coughing creates a pressure on the stomach. When this continues for a long period of time, the stomach muscles are weakened at certain areas. The tissues come out of these sections, leading to umbilical hernia.

Surgeries in the stomach

At times, a stomach surgery is followed by umbilical hernia. This happens because the surgery weakens a particular section of the stomach muscles. The intestines and tissues find it easy to make their way through this area. Children undergoing multiple surgeries in the stomach are more likely to develop umbilical hernia.

Umbilical Hernia


Fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity

Under certain condition, fluid accumulates in the abdominal cavity. This may weaken the stomach muscles from inside. As a result, the possibility of umbilical hernia increases. Fluid accumulation takes place due to various reasons in the stomach. In case your child develops an umbilical hernia and it does not get healed on its own, you should seek advice from a doctor.

Symptoms of Umbilical Hernia

Umbilical hernia may be detected by observing the activities of the children. When they laugh or cry, you will note a lump in the abdominal area. Most of the time, it occurs in the navel. You can observe the lump when the child is relaxed, but it becomes more prominent when he laughs or cries. This is because, these activities lead to pressurizing of the stomach. As a result, the swollen area becomes visible. However, the lump may shrink when the child lies down. You will also find the lump when the child coughs or goes to the toilet.

In case the child develops hernia, it is evident by the age of one year. The doctors recommend surgery if it does not disappear on its own by the age of four. However, the child does not feel any discomfiture as it is generally painless.

However, the child needs medical attention if the hernia becomes painful. The child mayvomit frequently and the lump swells up. You may observe the colour of the lump. Generally, it becomes discoloured under serious conditions. In the initial stages, it is possible to push back the lump into the stomach. It does not cause any pain. However, in the later stages, you will not be able to push it back into the abdomen. Even if you push, it will cause significant pain in the child.

If the child undergoes surgery, the lump is pushed back into the stomach and the walls of the stomach are strengthened. This is done by stitching muscle layers together over the weak area in the stomach. The area is dressed up and it remains for four to five days. The surgery does not take long, it generally gets over within half an hour.

If you find that the lump in the abdominal area of your child is not subsiding by the age of four, you should get medical help from the physicians.