Did you know that although hernia can occur at any age, almost one-third incidences of hernia in children occur in the first 6 months after birth, especially in a premature baby?
The most common form of hernia in children is known as umbilical hernia, wherein the growing infant’s abdominal wall fails to close completely around the umbilical cord.
Umbilical hernia, often, is a cause of anxiety amongst mothers. Most umbilical hernias, however, are benign and don’t require treatment.
They subside within one year of birth, and if the hernia has not subsided then you should consult your pediatrician.
In some cases, if a small baby develops a large hernia, non-surgical treatment method can be applied to cure it successfully. Discuss your options with the child’s doctor today.
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Hernias, on the other hand, when observed in the groin area are termed as inguinal hernia.
Mr. Viren Kapoor, 31, noticed a swelling would appear on his newborn son’s groin every time he’d cry. When the bulge kept popping up over the course of the week, Viren and his wife decided to take their son, Aman, to their pediatrician.
After a careful physical examination, Aman was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia and referred to Dr. D.K. Mitra, Pediatric Surgeon at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital, South Delhi for specialized care.
Viren decided to ask Dr. Mitra some questions before going ahead with his son’s treatment.
How do you tell your child has a hernia?
“Hernia in children are bulges or protrusions that occur when an internal body part, such as a loop of intestine, pushes through a weak muscle wall or through a preformed passage called the inguinal canal, as the infant grows,” said Dr. Mitra.
“The hernia may appear when the baby strains or cries, and disappear when he relaxes. If the hernia does not get smaller or retract, then the tissue may have become trapped in the opening of the muscle wall.”
After Aman’s pediatric inguinal hernia assessment, it was discovered that a loop of intestine had gotten squeezed in the groin area.“What are the symptoms of hernia in a child?” asked Viren, wondering if he should keep some signs in mind for the future.
For inguinal hernia in baby, symptoms include:
- Swelling or bulge that increases when the child cries, coughs, etc.
- Pain in the area around the hernia or fussiness
- Poor feeder
“Is a hernia dangerous for babies?” further questioned Viren.
“Yes, it can be dangerous for the baby if complications set in. That is why surgical treatment is advised within a week of diagnosis to avoid known complications that may arise.”
These following could be signs your baby may have developed an obstructed hernia where the blood supply to the trapped tissue gets cut off:
- If the hernia causes the baby a lot of pain
- Vomiting and fullness of abdomen
- Refusal to feed
Consult a doctor as early as possible as your infant may require an emergency surgical procedure.
In case of an emergency, rush to our Emergency room to get assisted by a qualified pediatrician available around the clock. You may also call 011 4211 1197.
What causes a hernia in a child?
“Can a baby get a hernia from crying too much?” wondered Viren.
“No, crying does not cause hernia in children.”
Your child may be born with a weakness in the abdominal wall or a persistent passage which can cause an inguinal hernia in children.
The following risk factors could contribute to hernia in children:
- Low infant birth weight
- Problems with the urethra
- Excessive straining
Do hernias in babies go away on their own?
Umbilical hernia in children may not always require treatment, but inguinal or groin hernia do not go away on their own. If left untreated, the hernia can grow and may lead to life-threatening complications.
The hernia may cause further problems if the trapped organ loses blood supply. Due to the lack of oxygen, the organ begins to die.
Avoid further delay! Consult a pediatrician today for appropriate treatment for your child.
Treatment of Hernia in Children
“What do I do if my child has a hernia?” asked Viren, worried about his son’s treatment.
“Surgical treatment for hernia in children after proper diagnosis should be done as soon as possible to prevent complications,” counselled Dr. Mitra.
The doctor will conduct a safe, open surgical procedure where the herniated tissue is pushed back into the abdomen and the passage is closed off. Tissue strengthening with mesh is not required in children.
Hernia surgery is a short procedure with a quick recovery period that usually does not need an overnight hospital stay unless indicated otherwise. There is no need to worry as your child will be able to resume daily activities as usual within a week or earlier.
Inguinal hernia surgery for 2 months old Aman no longer sounded as daunting to Viren and his wife.
“With Dr. Mitra’s reassurance, we felt more confident about the surgery. We decided to go ahead with the procedure without further delay.”
At Aman’s follow-up consultation a few weeks later, the hernia showed no signs of recurrence and his health and temperament showed positive signs of improvement as well. The family returned home pleased that they had consulted the pediatric surgeon in time.