Umbilical hernias are fairly common. They are obvious at birth and are caused by a small defect in the abdominal muscles which allows a portion of the peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity) to protrude, and push the umbilicus outward. This is more obvious when the infant cries and the increased pressure results in more visible bulging. The defect is not usually treated surgically. In most cases, by age 3 the umbilical hernia shrinks and closes without treatment.
The indications for umbilical hernia repair include:
- incarcerated (strangulated) umbilical hernia
- defects not spontaneously closed by 4 to 5 years of age
- children under 2 with very large defects unacceptable to parents for cosmetic reasons