My four-month-old baby has a large, protruding navel, and it becomes larger when he cries or strains. Will this harm him?
It is not unusual for infants to have a large, protruding navel, which is called a ruptured navel by some, or more properly, and umbilical hernia. This condition is more common in very young children particularly if they were born prematurely.
The defect is caused by a failure of the tissues around the umbilical cord to close completely, this condition permitting the contents within the abdomen to protrude more when the child cries or when there is any other condition that will increase the pressure within the abdomen.
Many parents tape the hernia with a coin, button, or cotton ball covering the opening. In general, such taping or other efforts to close the opening are of no benefit.
The majority of these defects will clear before the child is three or four years old, particularly if the opening into the abdominal cavity is small. If the opening is large, the chance of the hernia closing by itself is unlikely, and eventually surgery may be necessary to close the hernia.
Hernias in the groin are altogether different, and when they are noticed even in a very young infant, they should always be examined by a physician.