Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Help Doc! My Baby's Belly Button Sticks out!
Umbilical Hernia in a 8 week old Baby
Many parents get very anxious when they see a protruding belly button in their newborn babies. I guess all parents want their babies to come out perfect and when there is something not quite right we get rather anxious, especially so for first time parents.
There is a funny little story told about the difference between the first time, second time and third time parents. The story goes like this....
With the first baby, when the pacifier drops onto the floor, the parent picks it up, washes it with baby safe dishwashing liquid, pops it in the sterilizer before giving it back to the baby. With the second child, the parent picks it up, rinses it under the tap and pops it back in the baby's mouth. By the time they have their third child, they simply pick it up, pop it into their own mouths and gives it to the baby.
This story brings home one very important point and that is that knowledge and experience empowers. So for the first child, parents are very careful about everything because they don't know enough. By the third child, parents have enough knowledge and experience to be able to discern what is important and what's not.
Another way to get knowledge and experience is to learn about it from other people which is why you are reading this blog.
Anyway this baby first came to the clinic at 8 weeks of age with a protruding Belly Button. This is a condition known as an Umbilical Hernia. What happens is that there is a small defect in the muscle wall that allows some of the intestines to pop out, thus forming the hernia.
Umbilical Hernias are very common. As the baby grows, the defect in the muscle wall gets smaller and by 12 months, most hernias would disappear. Larger hernias may take longer to disappear. If by the age of 4 the hernia is still present, then a minor operation may be required to fix the defect in the muscle wall.
There is a small chance that the bowels in the hernia gets stuck so that the contents of the hernia cannot be pushed back into the abdomen. When that happens, the baby needs to be seen by a doctor straightaway. Thankfully, such cases are not common.
Umbilical Hernia in same Baby now 3 months old
As you can see from these 2 pictures that were taken 1 month apart, the hernia is already noticeably smaller. The baby's parents are obviously relieved and happy.
Umbilical hernias are very common and most will resolve by themselves. There is no need to do anything unless they persist past 4 years of age.
Murtagh, Patient Education 4th Ed, McGraw Hill Companies, 2005
I saw the baby again and now the belly button is normal!