Signs of an umbilical hernia in children

Many parents are concerned about the question of what does an umbilical hernia look like in newborns? After all, this pathology is quite widespread among infants. It can overshadow the joy of the birth of a baby for parents, but should not become a cause for long-term frustration.

So what are the signs of an anterior abdominal wall defect and how to determine its presence? And, most importantly, how can you help your child?

Why does pathology appear

An umbilical hernia in babies often forms at the place where the umbilical cord was previously connected to the body. In this zone, the skin is richly supplied with blood vessels, which should ideally close, and the area itself will tighten within a month, but sometimes this does not happen.

In an infant, delayed healing with the subsequent formation of a protrusion can occur for the following reasons:

  • the child constantly cries uncontrollably, coughs, often sneezes or in any other way strains the area of ​​​​the anterior abdominal wall, due to which pressure increases in the abdominal cavity and a defect is formed;
  • a preterm newborn has a weak, poorly formed abdominal wall that is unable to cope with the pressure;
    in newborn boys or girls with rickets, the abdominal wall also
  • insufficiently reinforced to cope with the loads;
    some babies have a genetic predisposition to pathology;
  • the formation of the body can be influenced by the diet of the mother and her addiction, for example, to alcohol;
  • a lack of collagen fibers resulting from a mutation can lead to insufficient strength of the navel, which will lead to the formation of a hernia;
  • a hernia in infants can be provoked by prolonged constipation, which also increases pressure in the abdominal cavity.

It is believed that hernias in girls develop more often. This is associated with the peculiarities of anatomical development.

Symptoms and appearance

How to recognize if a baby has problems? In an infant, a hernia that has formed in the womb is usually visible without any special devices, a visual examination is sufficient. The protrusion is usually large, the skin over it is thinned and darker in color due to the proximity of the vessels. Embryonic hernia is a serious danger, as it can rupture due to unsuccessful contact with the environment, which will eventually lead to peritonitis.

Recognizing an umbilical hernia of the cord is somewhat more difficult, since it is less pronounced and not so dangerous for the baby's life. The intestine, of course, is usually clearly visible, but treatment can be carried out conservatively, since the likelihood of rupture is minimal.

Children rarely have obvious complaints, but if the defect is severely neglected, the following symptoms may appear:

  • restless behavior;
  • bouts of vomiting, especially noticeable after eating;
  • the impossibility of correcting the defect by simply gently pressing on it;
  • change in stool color.

Hernias in newborns respond well to treatment if they are diagnosed in a timely manner. The main thing is to recognize the symptoms of an umbilical hernia in time.


Diagnosing an umbilical hernia in a baby usually does not require any effort. It is enough for a doctor with sufficient experience to collect an anamnesis from the parents, as well as to conduct a thorough examination of the child.

A hernia is recognized, first of all, by the presence of a specific defect in the place where the connection of the body with the umbilical cord used to be. In this area, a spherical protrusion is most often formed, which can have a color from normal skin to maroon. Maroon color often indicates that blood vessels are close to the skin and there is a high risk of injury, and therefore the examination should be carried out with extreme caution.

If a visual examination is not enough, an ultrasound technique may be used.

This method is completely safe for the child, so you should not be afraid for his health. Ultrasound can show what is the content and features of the internal location of the hernial sac. Thanks to these data, it is possible to choose the optimal tactics of therapy.

Treatment methods

If an umbilical hernia was diagnosed early and therapy started immediately, it most often does not recur and does not remind of itself in any way throughout the subsequent life. Today the method of treatment is chosen. Based on the features of the neoplasm.

If the size of the hernial sac is small, and there is a chance that the abdominal wall will strengthen, then conservative methods are preferred. If doctors have reason to believe that the abdominal wall of the newborn will not strengthen, then they will have to resort to the surgical technique. The operation will also help if the neoplasm is too large, and it is not possible to cope with it conservatively.

A few words about massage and exercises

Conservative treatment of hernia in infants is based primarily on special sets of exercises that are combined with massage.

Exercises in the first time should be carried out by a doctor. They are performed in a specially equipped office and are aimed at strengthening the anterior abdominal wall.

A specialist can, if possible. Teach a parent how to properly exercise with the baby in order to defeat the disease. You should not start exercises on your own without consulting a doctor, as this can do more harm than good.

Massage, as part of the treatment, parents are not trusted. It should be performed by a specially trained specialist, since babies have a very fragile body that is easy to damage. During the massage, you can lightly press on the protrusion so that it disappears, you can stroke around the hernia to improve the blood supply to organs and tissues in this area.

Massage, like exercises, is recommended to be repeated daily until the defect can be eliminated. In addition, after the disappearance of the hernia, it is possible, for the purpose of prevention, to perform both massage and light physical education for the baby.  

Will a bandage help?

It is possible to treat a hernia in young children not only with the help of massage and physical education. Often, doctors recommend the use of special patches or bandages that will help the abdominal wall to take the correct position and, accordingly, the possibility of its further correct formation without a hernial sac will appear.

True, bandages and patches are effective only in those children whose umbilical hernias are still amenable to reduction. In the event that the disease is very advanced, there will be no sense from the patch, as well as from the bandage, since it is no longer possible to correct the defect.

Despite the lack of a therapeutic effect, bandages are still recommended to be worn during preparation for surgery. This is necessary to prevent premature traumatization of the hernial sac and, accordingly, to avoid associated complications.

The choice of bandage or plaster should be made by a doctor. Often, in the case of children, it is the bandage that is preferred, since after gluing the patch on delicate skin, certain damages usually remain, which can be difficult to deal with. The bandage also protects delicate skin from negative effects.


Surgical treatment is the most effective method for treating umbilical hernias, but it is used with caution. It is best to resort to surgical intervention only if the umbilical ring has not closed by the age of 3-5 years, and the child continues to suffer from a hernia.

The operation is rarely difficult. During it, a special mesh is installed in the area of ​​​​the abdominal wall at the site of the defect, which will act as a wall until it gets stronger. That is, in fact, the mesh will contain the hernia instead of the abdominal muscles.

An alternative to suturing the mesh can be suturing the hernial sac. The choice of method depends on the general condition of the child and the severity of the disease. Basically, if there is a sharp deterioration in the general condition, doctors recommend not to postpone surgery in the far box and carry it out earlier than in 3-5 years.

Surgery is performed under general anesthesia. Despite this, most young children tolerate the operation easily. Doctors prefer not to use surgery only because any invasive manipulations are always associated with an increased risk to life and health.

Surgery is used only if conservative methods have failed. In most cases, if the parents took care of the baby's health in time, the intervention of surgeons is not required.

How to prevent the problem

In most cases, if the child has a good heredity, and nothing foreshadows the development of a hernia, it is quite easy to prevent its occurrence. All that needs to be done for this is to eliminate the factors that can provoke the development of a defect.


For this it is recommended:

  • abandon bad habits for the period of pregnancy planning and subsequent gestation (during breastfeeding, you will also have to forget about bad habits);
  • choose a good diet that will cover all the needs of the body during pregnancy, provide it with the necessary vitamins, minerals, micro and macro elements;
  • after the child is born, it is necessary to monitor his condition, avoiding frequent hysterical screams, sneezing, constant coughing;
  • it is recommended to immediately choose the right diet for the baby in order to avoid stagnation of feces in the intestines, which also negatively affects the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe umbilical ring;
  • you need to regularly visit a pediatrician in order to timely note all the deviations that appear and correct them.

If parents are not able to influence genetics and spontaneous mutations, then they can at least make efforts to protect the child from the action of external negative factors.

If enough time and attention is given to the prevention of umbilical hernia, the disease will bypass the child. If, despite all efforts, it was not possible to prevent the development of pathology, it is necessary to show the baby to the doctor and start treatment as early as possible. An umbilical hernia can be dealt with without surgery if time is given to the correct conservative therapy.

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