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Childhood Hernias – A Real Problem


Few things in this world are more special, precious, and inherently enjoyable then having a child. The ability to create life is unquestionably a miracle, and the pure innocence of children is something that the world we live in certainly needs more of. However, the world we live in isn’t the fairest, and sometimes people get sick, and yes, even children.

While many of us are familiar with the abundance of childhood diseases, conditions and disorders that exist, there is one that many people are not to familiar with and are often surprised to hear about – hernias.

For some reason, or another, over the years, hernias seemed to exclusively become an “adult problem,” and largely one that affected men. However, childhood hernias are a lot more common then you think, and can be quite serious.

Groin or inguinal hernias can occur at any age, but the peak incidence is during infancy and early childhood, with 80-90 percent of cases occurring in boys.

According to the British Hernia Centre, “About 3-5% of healthy, full-term babies may be born with an inguinal hernia and one-third of infancy and childhood hernias appear in the first 6 months of life. In premature infants, the incidence of inguinal hernia is substantially increased, up to 30%. In just over 10% of cases, other members of the family have also had a hernia at birth or in infancy.”

The reason that these specific types of hernias affect boys more than girls has to do with the development and ultimate descent of the testes.

The testes develop in the abdomen of a boy around the 7 month man and the eventually pass through the inguinal canal. After they reach the scrotum, the opening it just passed through normally closes and seals itself. However, in some instances, the opening will remain, leaving a cavity in the abdominal wall, or as we know it, a hernia.

This isn’t the only type of hernia that can affect children. An umbilical, or navel hernia is incredibly common among newborns and is one of the most common paediatric surgical conditions affecting one in ever five children.

For reasons not completely understood, it appear that umbilical hernias are more common in premature babies and children with Down’s Syndrome.

While the signs of a hernia will often be apparent from the exterior, and any attentive parent should notice it, it is possible for it to go undiagnosed. The result of this can often be a baby that just refuses to be calm, because they are constantly in discomfort.

Anytime you suspect something might be out of the ordinary or wrong with your child, it is completely understandable, and encouraged, to take your child to the doctors. Remember, your baby can’t speak for itself.