What is an umbilical hernia?
An umbilical hernia is a protrusion, or abnormal bulge, that can be felt or seen over the belly button. This condition develops when a portion of the intestine protrudes through the muscle of the abdominal wall.
Umbilical hernias in children are caused by an opening in the abdominal wall that is present at birth. The bulge can be seen and felt all the time or only when the child is crying, coughing, or straining during bowel movements. This protrusion may disappear when the child is relaxed.
One in every six children has an umbilical hernia, and it can affect both boys and girls equally. This condition is more common among African-American children than Caucasian children and low birth weight and premature infants have a higher risk of developing umbilical hernias. Umbilical hernias also often occur in adults, and should be repaired if they are causing symptoms of pain or intestinal entrapment.