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There is a separate factsheet available for parents of children having surgery to repair an umbilical hernia - Umbilical hernia in children. Your care will be adapted to meet your individual needs and may differ from what is described here. So it's important that you follow your surgeon's advice.
Unlike most hernias, which develop in adolescence or adulthood, 20 percent of babies are born with umbilical hernias. Umbilical hernias occur most often in newborns, and 90 percent will naturally close by the time the child reaches 5 years of age. After birth, the umbilical cord is no longer necessary, and the opening in the abdominal muscles closes as the baby matures.
Back to Health A to Z. A hernia occurs when an internal part of the body pushes through a weakness in the muscle or surrounding tissue wall. Your muscles are usually strong and tight enough to keep your organs and intestines in place, but a hernia can develop if there are any weak spots.
An umbilical hernia is a health condition where the abdominal wall behind the navel is damaged. It may cause the navel to bulge outwards—the bulge consisting of abdominal fat from the greater omentum or occasionally parts of the small intestine. The bulge can often be pressed back through the hole in the abdominal wall, and may "pop out" when coughing or otherwise acting to increase intra-abdominal pressure.
Repairing small umbilical hernias with surgical mesh rather than sutures reduces the chance of the hernia returning. Complications such as wound infection and pain are not affected by the type of repair. Adults with umbilical hernias need surgery to prevent serious bowel complications.
The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. An inguinal hernia that causes few symptoms and can easily be pushed back in may be treated without surgery.
The umbilical cord connects a mother and her fetus while in the womb. In most cases, the hole closes soon after birth. About 20 percent of babies are born with an umbilical hernia.
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