An umbilical hernia occurs when part of the intestine bulges through a weak spot in the belly. It is most common in infants, but adults can experience umbilical hernias as well.
In infants, the hernia usually closes on its own by 12 to 18 months. “Very rarely, a child needs surgery to close the hernia,” says Andrew T. Sledd, MD, FAAP, pediatrician at Saint Francis Medical Center. “That is only necessary for hernias that are painful, are bigger than 1.5 centimeters in diameter, do not disappear by age 3 or are blocking the intestines.”
In adults, umbilical hernias often become bigger over time and surgery is usually the best option. “Adults run the risk of having a strangulated hernia,” says Sledd. “That means it is cutting off the blood supply to part of the intestines. In this case, the patient needs emergency surgery.”
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