Conditions + Treatments

Umbilical Hernia

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What is an umbilical hernia?

An umbilical hernia is an opening in the abdominal muscles around the belly button. Umbilical hernias occur when a child is born with an opening in the abdominal muscles around the belly button. The muscles usually close before the child is born. However, if they do not, a hernia can occur.

Umbilical hernias occur in approximately 20 percent of all newborns. However, they are more common in African-Americans and premature infants.

In most cases, umbilical hernias do not cause discomfort and can be gently pushed back in or reduced. It is very rare that an umbilical hernia in a child causes any pain or becomes “stuck” or incarcerated. If this should happen, your child should see a doctor right away.

What are the symptoms of an umbilical hernia?

Umbilical hernias look like a swelling or bulging at the belly button. The bulge feels soft and may appear and disappear. It’s usually noticed when your child cries, coughs, strains or stands.

The skin appears stretched when the hernia is not bulging. The hernia may range in size from very small to large.

What causes an umbilical hernia?

An umbilical hernia occurs when the abdominal wall muscles around the belly button fail to close, allowing tissue or fluid to push through.

How we care for umbilical hernias

The Boston Children’s Hospital Department of Surgery provides general and specialized surgical services to infants and children suffering from umbilical hernias. Our team will work collaboratively with you to design a treatment plan appropriate for your child.

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Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000
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