Parenting Babycare Health

Hernia Causes, Types and Symptoms in Children

Ambili S Kartha
3 to 7 years

Created by Ambili S Kartha
Updated on Jun 04, 2021

Hernia Causes Types and Symptoms in Children
Reviewed by Expert panel

Hernia? In Children? Yes, unlike most of us think, hernias are fairly common among kids. Do you know that babies, particular preemies, can even be born with a Lingual hernia? The good news is that if recognized on time, a hernia can be effectively treated. In fact, hernia repair is one of the most common surgeries performed on children.

What is Hernia in Children?

When part of an organ or tissue within the abdomen, such as a loop of intestine, pushes through the weak spot in a muscle wall. In this course of action, it can protrude into space where it does not belong. This protrusion is referred to as a hernia. Hernia appears as a bulge or lump. However, in children, unlike hernias are seen in adults, the area through which the organ or tissue protrude is not always considered a weakness in the muscle wall, but a normal area that has not yet closed.

What Causes Hernia In Children?

A hernia is caused by muscle weakness and it can develop promptly or over a period of time. However, pediatric hernias more often happen due to some birth defect. More often due to a hole in the muscle wall of the abdomen that happens due to various reason. In fact, most of the time this hole will disappear on its own without creating issues. If not, the abdominal tissue, usually a portion of the small intestine, can protrude through it developing a hernia.

When Is Hernia In Children Detect?

A hernia is mostly detected during the initial year of the child. The preemies are more often born with a hernia and they are often surgically corrected before discharging from the neonatal intensive care unit. But, even though not often, hernias will not become noticeable until a child is much older, and even sometimes not until adulthood.

How Is Hernia In Children Detected?

  • Hernias in children are often detected during the regular pediatric checkup
  • The parents can even notice a lump while changing a diaper or bathing the baby
  • The bulge that appears when the baby is straining, crying or coughing also indicates a hernia

What Are The Types Of Hernia In Children?

There are different types of hernias.

Depending on the severity, hernia in children is broadly divided into three:

  1. Reducible Hernia:

    This is a relatively harmless hernia in children. Here, the herniated tissues may protrude only when the child physical pressure or strain the abdomen like crying, coughing, and straining during a bowel movement. It is not noticeable at other times
  2. Incarcerated Hernia:

    Every now and then, the tissue can be trapped in an opening or pouch, unable to retract. This type of hernias is called an incarcerated hernia. This is not as harmless as a reducible hernia and requires immediate medical attention. For example, if a loop of intestine is caught and squeezed in the opening or pouch, it may block the passage of food through the digestive tract, developing severe complications. Symptoms of an incarcerated hernia include, sharp abdominal pain, frequent vomiting, and the bulge will feel harder rather than soft
  3. Strangulated Hernia:

    This is the most serious type of hernia in children. In this type, the normal blood supply is cut off from the trapped tissue. Without blood circulation, the strangulated part of the organ or tissue will not get oxygen and the cells eventually start to die. Immediate surgery is required to dislodge the tissue to save it from getting damaged


Types of Hernia in Children 

There are three types of hernia in children depending on the location. Read here...

  1. Inguinal Hernia:

    An inguinal hernia happens when part of the intestine protrude through the abdominal wall in the groin area.

    Causes of Inguinal Hernia: In boys, an inguinal hernia related to the development and descent of the testes. The testis is developed inside the abdomen of the fetus. It is around the seventh month of pregnancy, the testes start to descend to the scrotum. After they reach the scrotum, the opening behind should close. Failure of closing this opening in proper time can pave the way for developing a hernia. In girls, a similar process happens as the round ligament of the uterus descends into the groin at the labia. This sac, known as processes vaginalis, usually closes shortly after birth, thereby, eliminating the connection between the abdominal cavity and the groin. However, once the closure of the process vaginalis is delayed or incomplete, it may stretch and eventually forms a hernia. Surgery can correct an inguinal hernia. In fact, inguinal hernia correction is the most common elective surgery that pediatric surgeons perform. [Read - Inguinal Hernia Occurrence & Treatment in Children]

    Inguinal Hernia Symptoms: A bulge or a swelling in the groin. In boys, the swelling might be seen in the scrotum. Sometimes the swelling may only be seen during the child cry or strain.

  2. Umbilical Hernia:

    An umbilical hernia develops as a result of the hole in the abdominal muscles through which the umbilical cord passes fails to close after birth. This develops a bulge near or in the belly button, or navel. It may appear as if the child's belly button is swollen. However, unlike inguinal hernias, which always require surgical correction, 95 percent of umbilical hernias close on their own. Umbilical hernias affect about 10 percent of children. [Read - Umbilical Hernia Causes & Treatment Remedies]

    Umbilical Symptoms:

    A soft bulge under the skin of the belly button. Size varies from the size of a pea to the size of a plum The bulge may be easier to see when your child sits or stands upright or strains stomach muscles

  3. Femoral Hernia:

    Femoral hernias are rare in children. A femoral hernia is more reported in girls. It appears as a lump at the top of the thigh, just below the groin. It is associated with a high risk of strangulation and must always be surgically repaired.

    Femoral Symptoms:

    A noticeable lump in the groin area, near the upper thigh. The lump can cause pain when the child stands up or strain in any way


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This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Feb 22, 2018

useful info. thanks for sharing!

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| Jun 04, 2018


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| Jun 08, 2018

thanks useful

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| Jun 08, 2018

very useful blog.. thank you so much.

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| Feb 03, 2019

very good blog. thanx for sharing

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