Umbilical hernia

An umbilical hernia is a bulge in the abdominal wall near the navel (umbilicus) that sometimes contains abdominal tissue, a loop of intestine, fat, or fluid. An umbilical hernia may be present at birth or develop shortly thereafter.

Most of these hernias are noticed when babies are a few days or weeks old, after the umbilical cord stump falls off. But infants and toddlers can get them too. In most cases, they heal without treatment. Sometimes surgery is needed.

Adults can have umbilical hernias too. They are more common in women and people who are obese. And treatment is usually needed.

An umbilical hernia usually is not painful or dangerous.

Hernias can vary in size from less than 0.4 in. (1 cm) to more than 1.6 in. (4.1 cm) across but are rarely more than 0.8 in. (2 cm) across.

Last Updated: January 5, 2010

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics

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