Hernia Symptoms in Babies

Hernias are a common childhood problem and occur frequently in babies, especially preemies. Hernias can affect both girls and boys. Girls are more likely to develop umbilical hernias and boys are more likely to develop inguinal hernias. Umbilical hernias will correct themselves with time, while inguinal hernias require minor surgery. Hernias are not generally life threatening but in extreme cases can lead to tangled intestines within the region, resulting in vomiting and blood restriction to the area, and must be treated with surgery immediately.


Hernias occur in the diaphragm, groin and abdomen regions. Umbilical hernias are recognisable by bulges or lumps around the belly button that protrude when a baby cries or strains and are a result of pressure in the abdomen. Inguinal hernias are lumps about the size of a thumb found in the groin area or scrotum. Similar to umbilical hernias, inguinal hernias protrude more when a baby is upset or strains and will retract into the abdomen when the baby is relaxed.


Hernias are bulges and lumps under the skin that are the result of tissue and/or organs being out of place. Umbilical hernias are caused by a lack of development of the abdominal muscles while in the womb. Inguinal hernias are more common in boys and are a result of testicles pushing through the groin and abdomen while descending into the scrotal sac.


Umbilical hernias rarely require treatment and often disappear by the time children are two to three years old. Inguinal hernias require minor surgery for treatment and will not correct themselves on their own. In extreme cases of both umbilical and inguinal hernias, portions of the baby's intestine can get trapped in the opening of the hernia region, which results in blood loss to the area. Such cases require immediate surgery. Symptoms to look for include vomiting, extreme sensitivity, discolouration and swelling in the hernia region.


Umbilical hernias affect 10 to 20 per cent of babies and are more common in girls. Premature and African American babies are also at higher risk of having umbilical hernias. Although rare, girls can develop inguinal hernias similar to boys and will require surgery for correction. Inguinal hernias in girls are identified by firm, oblong protrusions in the labia, vaginal and groin areas.


Your baby's testicles or labia may seem extremely swollen after birth but may not be a hernia condition. The extreme swelling can be a result of an influx of fluid and extra hormones received from the mother right before birth. The swelling should disappear, and all fluids and hormones should flush from the baby's body within a few days after birth.

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About the Author

Tiffany Fowlkes has worked as a writer, editor and graphic designer for more than five years. She has served as a contributing staff writer, editor and graphic designer for a publishing company in the travel industry. Fowlkes holds a bachelor's degree in English and art from Sul Ross State University.