Hernias, which are defects in your abdominal wall that allow tissue or fat to bulge through, typically occur in children as inguinal or umbilical hernias. They’re often present due to birth complications such as premature birth.
There are two types of inguinal hernias. The most common type in children, indirect inguinal hernias, generally occurs as a result of an opening in the abdominal wall being present at birth. Direct inguinal hernias develop more rarely, as they usually result from physical overexertion due to sports or lifting heavy objects.
The other most common form of childhood hernia, umbilical hernias, occur in the spot where the umbilical cord was previously attached to the belly button. They develop when the muscles fail to close around this spot after the umbilical cord falls off.
Both inguinal and umbilical hernias may cause a pain or tenderness in the belly button or groin, as well as a bulge in this area that grows in size as a result of laughing, crying, or physically straining. However, more severe symptoms such as bloating, fever, severe and sudden abdominal pain, and nausea may indicate that the hernia has become strangulated.
A hernia can become strangulated after an extended period of incarceration, a condition in which part of the intestine becomes trapped in the abdominal opening. This can lead to the loss of that part of the intestine, as well as any involved testicles or ovaries.
Hernias occur most commonly in children who are assigned male at birth, are born prematurely or underweight, are of African descent, and who experience conditions such as undescended testicles, cystic fibrosis, or a genetic syndrome that increases the risk of a hernia.
A pediatric hernia is typically treated through surgery, during which your child’s surgeon will push the bulging tissue back into its proper position and re-seal the opening with stitches. This can be performed as an open surgery (involving a small incision in the affected area) or as laparoscopic surgery (involving several tiny incisions in the abdomen and groin).
To schedule an appointment with a doctor and begin treatment for your child’s hernia, you can schedule an appointment at Forest Hills Pediatric Specialists by calling (718) 704-5020 or at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Pediatric Surgery Division by calling (718) 670-3007.
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