Hernias feel like a soft lump, bulge, or swelling under the skin in the groin or around the belly button. You may notice the swelling when your baby cries or coughs. Typically, a pediatrician will make the diagnosis during one of your baby’s check-ups and refer your child to a Duke pediatric general surgeon if surgery is necessary.
This type of hernia begins in the groin area and is more common in premature infants. It typically develops when the canal that connects the abdomen to the genitals doesn’t close prior to birth. Surgery is needed to close the connection because a piece of the intestine can move into this canal and become trapped. This serious concern needs prompt surgical repair as the intestine can be cut off from the blood supply and become damaged. Inguinal hernias are also common in adults.
Umbilical hernias are found around the belly button when the abdominal muscle wall doesn’t fully close following birth. Many close on their own, but surgery may be necessary if this does not happen by age three. In rare cases, surgery may be needed sooner if the intestines cannot be pushed into the abdomen. This can cut off the blood supply and damage the abdominal muscles. Umbilical hernias are also common in adults.