The difference between an inguinal and umbilical hernia The difference between an inguinal and umbilical hernia

While they sometimes require surgery, in most cases, they are just physical abnormalities that do not cause serious pain in children.

According to Stanford Children’s Health, hernias can develop during the first months of a baby’s life as the result of a weakness in the abdominal muscles. Inguinal and umbilical hernias can happen for slightly different reasons.

What is an inguinal hernia?

As a male fetus grows and matures during pregnancy, the testicles develop in the abdomen and then move down into the scrotum through an area called the inguinal canal. According to Stanford Children’s Health, shortly after a baby is born, the inguinal canal closes, preventing the testicles from moving back into the abdomen. If this area does not close completely, a section of the intestine can move into the inguinal canal through the weakened area of the lower abdominal wall, causing a hernia.

While girls do not have testicles, they still have an inguinal canal and can therefore develop hernias in this area as well; however, inguinal hernias occur less frequently among females than they do in males.

What is an umbilical hernia?

As the fetus grows and develops during pregnancy, there is a small opening in the abdominal muscles where the umbilical cord passes through to connect the mother to the baby. After birth, the opening in the abdominal muscles closes as the baby matures. Sometimes, these muscles do not close completely, and a small opening is left. This is how a loop of the intestine can move into the opening between the abdominal muscles, causing a hernia. (Related article:  Resuscitation maneuvers in children).

Can they be dangerous?

According to Harvard Medical School, in some cases hernias may cause severe pain that can restrict or hinder certain activities.

When a hernia produces symptoms such fever, vomiting, and limited movement, or when it cannot be placed back into the cavity or a dark coloration appears, urgent medical care is necessary as this may be a sign of a strangulated hernia, which must be operated on immediately to prevent further complications.

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