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Pediatrics/opinion about umbilical hernia treatment


umbilical hernia
umbilical hernia  

My baby is about 10 1/2 months now and he has had his hernia since he was maybe 4 months old (I think.) His pediatrician didn't notice it until his 9 month check up and she said they usually go away by 12 months, sometimes taking up to age 5 to go away. Now age 5 seems like a long time to sit and wait for it to go away, and my husband and I do not think it'll be gone by 12 months.

Online there are different answers saying surgery is necessary at age 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Which one is correct? My son's is fairly big it makes it look like he has an outtie belly button. And a few websites say its riskier to leave it than correct it. Plus it seems like an easy operation. So wouldn't doctors rather just get it done at age 1 and forget about it?

Most cases I've read about the babies were born with the hernia and then it went away by age 4 months. However in my son's case it didn't show up till he was 4-6 months and it has no sign of going away at almost 11 months. He's not in pain and I could care less what it looks like (in my opinion it's cute, we always thought he just had an outtie) but I'd rather fix it sooner than later so I don't have to worry about it getting worse or something bad coming of it (though rare, things can and do happen) and as a mother I don't need more to worry about. And I know surgery at a year stinks but its a simple quick procedure so I'd rather him go through that then something worse later. Not to mention after surgery they aren't supposed to do any strenuous activity and 2, 3, 4, 5 year olds are very active. 1 year olds are a little less active so less risk of him hurting himself after!

If his pediatrician recommends waiting to fix it if its still there at a year should I call another pediatrician for a second opinion? Sorry I've written so much.

Hi, Denee,

This seems like a small, normal umbilical hernia and unless it is causing problems, which almost never is the case, I always recommend waiting until age 5 to repair the very small percent that don't get better by then.  If not better by 5, it will not change.  The abdominal muscles as one grows older tend to obliterate the opening and things are fine.  I have never recommended any course other than this and all my patients have been fine. Surgery at any age is to be avoided, especially with a problem that has a 95% chance or more of spontaneously resolving and a nearly zero chance of causing problems.

Good luck, Dr. Olson


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David Olson, MD


I would be happy to attempt to answer any questions about general pediatric topics, either medical issues or behavioral issues. This would include all the various questions one receives in a busy pediatric practice. I`m a board certified pediatrician in northern Michigan and have been in practice for over 15 years. I enjoy the teaching role I have in our practice and would enjoy the opportunity to help others with their pediatric problems.

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