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When to Worry: Hernia

What exactly is a hernia? Learn more about the two types of hernias that are common in babies and what kind of treatment might be needed.

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-If your baby has a bulge near his bellybutton, a swollen testicle, or a lump in his groin area, he may have a hernia. A hernia occurs any time an organ inside the body, usually the intestine, pushes through an opening in the abdominal wall. You'll see a bulge or a bump that may become visible or increase in size when your little one cries, coughs, or has a bowel movement. Hernias are almost always painless. There are many different types of hernias, but two are most common in babies. The umbilical hernia will appear near your baby's bellybutton during the first few weeks or months of his life. You should bring it to your doctor's attention, but special treatment usually isn't necessary. It will probably disappear on its own. Then there's the inguinal hernia. It's especially common in babies born prematurely. You may find a lump in the groin or in boys it may look like his testicle is swollen. Your doctor will probably recommend minor surgery to repair this type of hernia and prevent it from recurring. The surgery is a safe outpatient procedure and your baby will be back to himself in no time. If your child has a hernia and it suddenly looks red or painful, call your pediatrician right away. This can be a sign that the bowel is trapped and it needs to be repaired immediately.