What Are Hernias? Hernias happen when part of an organ or tissue in the body (such as a loop of intestine) pushes through an opening or weak spot in a muscle wall. It can push into a space where it doesn't belong. This causes a bulge or lump. How Do Hernias Happen? Hernias are fairly common in kids. Babies, especially preemies, can be born with them. Some babies are born with small openings inside the body that will close at some point. Nearby tissues can squeeze into such openings and become hernias. Unlike hernias seen in adults, these areas are not always considered a weakness in the muscle wall, but a normal area that has not yet closed. Sometimes tissues can squeeze through muscle wall openings that are only meant for arteries or other tissues. In other cases, strains or injuries create a weak spot in the muscle wall. Then, part of a nearby organ can push into the weak spot so that it bulges and becomes a hernia. Hernia repair is the one of the most common surgeries kids have. It's important to know the signs of a hernia so your child gets the right medical care. What Are the Types of Hernias? There are different types of hernias, and each needs different levels of medical care. Most hernias in kids are either inguinal hernias in the groin area or umbilical hernias in the belly-button area. Inguinal Hernias An inguinal hernia happens when part of the intestines pushes through an opening in the lower part of the abdomen called the inguinal (IN-gwuh-nul) canal. Instead of closing tightly, the canal leaves a space for the intestines to slide into. Doctors fix inguinal hernias with surgery. Umbilical Hernias An umbilical hernia happens when part of a child's intestines bulges through the abdominal wall inside the belly button. It shows up as a bump under the belly button. The hernia isn't painful and most don't cause any problems. Most umbilical (um-BILL-ih-kul) hernias closes up on their own by the time the child turns 4 or 5. If a hernia doesn't go away by then or causes problems, doctors may recommend surgery. Epigastric Hernias An epigastric hernia is when part of the intestines pushes through the abdominal muscles between the belly button and the chest. Many epigastric (eh-pih-GAS-trik) hernias are small, cause no symptoms, and don't need treatment. Larger ones that do cause symptoms won't heal on their own, but surgery can fix the problem. Other types of hernias — like hiatal hernias, femoral hernias, and incisional hernias — usually happen in older people, not kids. Back to Articles Related Articles Inguinal Hernias An inguinal hernia happens when part of the intestines pushes through an opening in the lower part of the abdomen. Doctors fix these hernias with surgery. Read More Umbilical Hernias An umbilical hernia shows up as a bump under the belly button. If a hernia doesn't go away by age 4 or 5 or causes problems, doctors may recommend surgery. Read More Epigastric Hernias An epigastric hernia is when part of the intestines pushes through the abdominal muscles between the belly button and the chest. Many are small, cause no symptoms, and don't need treatment. Read More Medical Care and Your Newborn By the time you hold your new baby for the first time, you've probably chosen your little one's doctor. Learn about your newborn's medical care. Read More Undescended Testicles Shortly before birth, a boy's testicles usually descend into the scrotum. When a testicle doesn't make the move, this is called cryptorchidism, or undescended testicles. Read More PQ: I have a lump on one of my testicles. What should I do? Find out the answer to this personal question! Read More Hernias A hernia is an opening or weakness in the wall of a muscle, tissue, or membrane that normally holds an organ in place. Learning to prevent hernias isn't hard to do - check out these tips. Read More What Should I Do About Lumps in My Testicles? Find out what the experts have to say. Read More Why Does the Doctor Have to Examine My Testicles? Find out what the experts have to say. Read More Testicular Exams If you're a guy, you may be wondering why the doctor needs to do a testicular exam. Find out in this article. Read More When Your Baby’s Born Premature Premature infants, known as preemies, come into the world earlier than full-term infants. They have many special needs that make their care different from other babies. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.