Umbilical Hernia in Newborn: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention


Welcoming a newborn into the world brings joy and excitement for parents, but it can also be a time of concern and questions. One common condition that may arise in newborns is an umbilical hernia. In this article, we will explore what an umbilical hernia is, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, potential complications, recovery, and prevention measures.

What is an Umbilical Hernia?

An umbilical hernia in newborn occurs when a section of intestine or fatty tissue protrudes through the abdominal muscles near the belly button. It appears as a soft bulge or swelling, typically measuring around half an inch to an inch in diameter. Umbilical hernias are relatively common in newborns and usually resolve on their own without intervention by the age of 1 to 2 years.


The exact cause of umbilical hernias in newborns is not always clear. However, several factors can contribute to their development. One common cause is the failure of the abdominal muscles to close fully after the baby’s birth. This weakness in the abdominal wall allows the intestines or fatty tissue to push through and form a hernia.


In most cases, umbilical hernia in newborns are harmless and do not cause any discomfort or pain. However, there are some signs that parents can look out for, such as:

  • A visible bulge or swelling near the belly button
  • The bulge may become more prominent when the baby cries or strains
  • The hernia is typically soft and can be easily pushed back into the abdomen


Diagnosing an umbilical hernia in newborn is usually straightforward and can often be done through a physical examination by a healthcare professional. They will examine the baby’s abdomen and observe the presence of a bulge near the umbilicus. In rare cases where the hernia is large or causing complications, additional imaging tests may be recommended.

Treatment Options

In the majority of cases, umbilical hernia in newborn resolve naturally without any treatment. However the healthcare provider may suggest certain measures to manage and monitor the hernia.

Conservative Management:

Conservative management involves keeping a watchful eye on the hernia and taking simple precautions to ensure it doesn’t worsen. These may include:

  • Avoiding any pressure or stress on the hernia site
  • Gently pushing the hernia back into the abdomen if it becomes protruded
  • Ensuring proper hygiene and cleanliness around the umbilical area

Surgical Intervention:

In some instances, surgical intervention may be required, especially if the hernia persists beyond the age of 2 or causes complications. The procedure involves a small incision near the hernia site to push the protruding tissue back into place and reinforce the abdominal wall.

Complications and Risks

While umbilical hernia in newborn are generally harmless, there can be some associated complications. Although rare, complications may include:

  • Entrapment of the protruding tissue, leading to strangulation and reduced blood flow
  • Infection around the umbilical area
  • Intestinal obstruction if the hernia contents become trapped

It is crucial for parents to consult a healthcare professional promptly if they notice any unusual symptoms or changes in the hernia.

Recovery and Aftercare

Following surgical intervention, the baby will require a period of recovery. The healthcare provider will provide specific instructions on wound care, pain management, and activities to avoid during the healing process. It’s essential for parents to follow these guidelines closely to promote a smooth recovery.

Prevention and Outlook

Preventing umbilical hernias in newborns is not always possible, as some cases are due to factors beyond control. However, certain practices may help minimize the risk, such as:

  • Proper handling and care of the umbilical cord stump
  • Avoiding excessive pressure or pulling on the umbilical area
  • Maintaining good hygiene to prevent infection

The outlook for umbilical hernias is generally favorable, with most cases resolving naturally as the child grows. Surgical interventions, when necessary, have a high success rate, and the risk of complications is minimal.


Umbilical hernias are common in newborns and often resolve on their own without intervention. It is important for parents to be aware of the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available. By understanding the condition, recognizing potential complications, and following preventive measures, parents can ensure the well-being and healthy development of their newborns.


Q1: Can I try to push the hernia back into the abdomen myself? Yes, gently pushing the hernia back into the abdomen is often safe and can be done if the hernia becomes protruded. However, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional for proper guidance.

Q2: Is surgery the only treatment option for umbilical hernias? No, the majority of umbilical hernias in newborns resolve on their own without any treatment. Surgical intervention is only considered if the hernia persists beyond the age of 2 or causes complications.

Q3: Are umbilical hernias painful for newborns? In most cases, umbilical hernias do not cause pain or discomfort in newborns. However, if you notice any unusual symptoms or changes in the hernia, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional.

Q4: Can umbilical hernias be prevented? While some umbilical hernias are beyond prevention, you can minimize the risk by handling the umbilical cord stump with care, avoiding excessive pressure on the umbilical area, and maintaining good hygiene.

Q5: How long does it take for an umbilical hernia to resolve? Umbilical hernia in newborn typically resolve on their own by the age of 1 to 2 years. If the hernia persists beyond this timeframe or causes complications, medical intervention may be necessary.

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