Inguinal Hernia In Infants: Everything You Need To Know About This Condition

Ally Villar
·4-min read

Caring for your newborn likely is most important job for you and essentially starts from when your little one was in the womb. From the feeds to the sleep to the bathing and everything in between, all of it takes centerstage. But the most important aspect of caring for a newborn is perhaps looking after their health. And even though you may take every precaution under the sun, there are chances where you miss out on certain health complications, such as an inguinal hernia.

Inguinal hernia is a condition where loops of your baby’s bowel protrude through a weak point in their groin area. It can be a serious and fatal condition.

What Is Inguinal Hernia?

inguinal hernia in babies
inguinal hernia in babies

Image source: iStock

In this condition. your baby boy’s testicles would first grow inside his belly while in the womb then by the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, his testes would move down a tunnel called processus vaginalis and into the scrotum to an area known as the inguinal canal. Baby girls do not have testes but this particular tunnel also exists in them.

When your baby is born, the inguinal canal would close in order to prevent the testes from moving back into the abdomen. Although, there are instances where the processus vaginalis tunnel would not close. This leaves an opening into the inguinal canal where a piece of your baby’s bowel or ovary may get trapped.

If the area in the inguinal canal doesn’t get to close properly, this is when loops of bowel move to the same hole as the testes then causing hernia in your baby.

This condition is also typically caused by the following:

  • Increased pressure in your baby’s abdomen

  • Weak abdominal wall

  • May also be a combination of the above

Prevalence of Inguinal Hernia In Babies Across The Globe

According to a study by HealthyChildren.org under the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are about 3.5 percent of healthy full-term babies that are born with an inguinal hernia. There is also an increased risk of the condition of up to 30 percent for premature babies.

Unfortunately, an inguinal hernia is a serious condition especially for your baby’s delicate body and may even need surgery.

How To Know If Your Baby Has Inguinal Hernia

inguinal hernia in babies
inguinal hernia in babies

Image source: iStock

Children may experience hernia at any age, but it is often noticed more in newborn babies.

It may not be obvious during the first few weeks or even months after they’re born, but once the bulge in their groin or scrotum gets bigger you may notice your child crying or straining. This bulge may go away or turn smaller while your child is asleep during the night.

Once this bulge no longer pushes back into the abdomen, this becomes a serious condition and your child’s inguinal canal may lose its blood supply.

You can detect signs of inguinal hernia in babies if you spot the following:

It’s also important to note that symptoms may vary for each child. So if you happen to notice any of these signs in your baby or find them in pain, it’s best to contact a doctor right away.

Even with only one groin with inguinal hernia, your child can be more at risk of having a hernia on their other side. It is, therefore, advisable to get them treated as soon as possible.

Treatment For Inguinal Hernia

Image source: iStock

Infants need to go through surgery in order to fix their inguinal hernia. They would need to be operated to release the loops of the bowel that got stuck. This is an immediate treatment for hernia in your baby.

The operation will involve giving your child anaesthesia, then placing the loops of their bowel back into their abdominal cavity. Then their muscles will be stitched together to prevent the hernia from recurring.

The surgery usually lasts 30 minutes to one hour.

Baby boys are at higher risk of having an inguinal hernia than girls, which is why gender is a primary risk factor of this condition. Other risk factors include:

  • Premature births

  • Family history

  • Other urogenital anomalies

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • Developmental dysplasia of the hip

When To Call A Doctor

You should immediately contact your doctor if you find that your baby has:

  • Swelling or bulging in the groin area

  • Vomiting

  • Experiences pain

  • Fever

While this condition takes time to show its true ugly face, it’s always best to be cautious. Check your baby’s genitals for allergies and hernia once every other day and rush them to the doctor if you notice any abnormality.

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