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Pediatric Umbilical Hernia (Belly Button)

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Summary

An umbilical hernia located in the belly button area, umbilical hernias typically closes within a couple of weeks after the baby is born but some close more slowly than others

Expended Overview

Before a baby is born, the umbilical cord goes through an opening in the muscle of the abdominal wall.  Once the baby is born, the opening should close.  Some close more slowly than others.  Openings that persists more than a couple of weeks after the baby is born allow intestine to come out of the abdomen and cause the skin of the belly button to bulge.  This is an umbilical hernia.  Some are large and some are small. 

Treatment

Wait

At Children's Health we do not typically need to operate on umbilical hernias in babies. An umbilical hernia will:

  • rarely cause symptoms
  • are very likely to eventually close on its own
  • the belly button will probably look better if it is not operated on 

Surgery

Umbilical hernias will require an operation if they fail to close by 3 or 4 years of age. The surgery does not require you to stay in the hospital.  It involves a small incision that is usually invisible by the time it heals. The abnormal opening is located and put together with stitches which are all underneath the skin. 

Risks include infection or that the hernia may come back but both are very rare. 

Your child will go home and can eat, drink and play like normal. 

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