What's Normal for Your Newborn?

Swelling Concerns

When you're changing baby's diaper or giving him a bath, it would certainly be a surprise to find a strange bulge by his belly button or groin. This bulge is likely a sign of an infant hernia, and while it's a scary sight, the reality is it will go away or can be surgically corrected, if necessary.

Inguinal Hernia: "This occurs in approximately 1 in 10 boys and 1 in 15 girls," says Edmund Kessler, MD, chief of ambulatory outpatient pediatric surgery at the Weill Cornell Medical Center, in New York. The hernia -- caused when parts of the intestine push through weak abdominal muscles in the groin -- is visible as a swelling that comes and goes. If it becomes hard and causes pain, surgery is the only treatment, Dr. Kessler explains.

Umbilical Hernia: Located at the belly button, an umbilical hernia is common, usually doesn't require surgery, and goes away by the time your child is a preschooler. (In fact, a navel referred to as an "outie" may actually be a small hernia.) It looks like a little balloon under the skin that retracts when pressed. If the hernia doesn't retract and it's red or swelling, call your pediatrician right away.

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