Umbilical hernia : A guide to Hernias

An umbilical hernia is where bodily tissue or part of the intestine pushes through the abdominal wall, near to the navel (belly button).

This type of hernia occurs in infants and young children with as many as one in ten children being affected. It is particularly common in premature babies.

As you might imagine the name of this hernia is taken from the umbilical cord: the umbilical cord develops during pregnancy and is attached to the baby via an opening in its abdominal wall. This opening normally closes before birth but in some cases, it fails to completely seal which then leaves a weakness. This weakness then results in an umbilical hernia.

In most cases, the umbilical hernia retracts of its own accord and the opening seals up as per normal. This usually happens before the baby is one year old and with small hernias. But larger hernias will require surgical treatment.

Umbilical hernias and adults

Umbilical hernias can develop in adults and are known as ‘paraumbilical’ hernias. This type of hernia develops above the navel whereas the umbilical version in children develops around the navel.

If an umbilical hernia occurs in an adult then it is usually due to any of the following reasons:

  • Chronic or excessive coughing
  • Several pregnancies
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Being overweight or obese

The childhood variety of hernia is discussed in further detail in our hernias and children section. This is particularly aimed at parents of children, or a child who they suspect may have a hernia.

This section will provide you with an overview but if you want to know more then visit the hernias and children section.

Other types of hernia include:

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