Usually, no treatment is needed unless the hernia continues past age 3 or 4. In very rare cases, bowel or other tissue can bulge out and lose its blood supply (become strangulated). This is an emergency needing surgery.
Most umbilical hernias get better without treatment by the time the child is 3 - 4 years old. Those that do not close may need surgery. Umbilical hernias are usually painless.
Strangulation of bowel tissue is rare but serious, and needs immediate surgery.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider, or go to the emergency room if the infant is very fussy or seems to have bad abdominal pain, or if the hernia becomes tender, swollen, or discolored.
Review Date: 08/02/2009
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.