Hernias happen when part of an organ or tissue in the body (such as a loop of intestine)
pushes through an opening or weak spot in a muscle wall. It can push into a space
where it doesn't belong. This causes a bulge or lump.
How Do Hernias Happen?
Hernias are fairly common in kids. Babies, especially
preemies, can be
born with them.
Some babies are born with small openings inside the body that will close at some
point. Nearby tissues can squeeze into such openings and become hernias. Unlike hernias
seen in adults, these areas are not always considered a weakness in the muscle wall,
but a normal area that has not yet closed.
Sometimes tissues can squeeze through muscle wall openings that are only meant
for arteries or other tissues. In other cases, strains or injuries create a weak spot
in the muscle wall. Then, part of a nearby organ can push into the weak spot so that
it bulges and becomes a hernia.
Hernia repair is the one of the most common surgeries kids have. It's important
to know the signs of a hernia so your child gets the right medical care.
What Are the Types of Hernias?
There are different types of hernias, and each needs different levels of medical
Most hernias in kids are either inguinal hernias
in the groin area or umbilical hernias in the belly-button area.
An inguinal hernia happens when part of the intestines pushes through an opening
in the lower part of the abdomen called the inguinal (IN-gwuh-nul) canal. Instead
of closing tightly, the canal leaves a space for the intestines to slide into.
An umbilical hernia happens when part of a child's intestines bulges through the
abdominal wall inside the belly button. It shows up as a bump under the belly button.
The hernia isn't painful and most don't cause any problems.
Most umbilical (um-BILL-ih-kul) hernias closes up on their own by the time the
child turns 4 or 5. If a hernia doesn't go away by then or causes problems, doctors
may recommend surgery.