Most cases of umbilical hernias resolve without directed treatment, according to Mayo Clinic. Umbilical hernias usually go away on their own within two years after birth. However, surgery may be helpful if the hernias don't go away by the time the child turns 4 years old or appear in adulthood.
A bulge that appears near the navel when a child is crying, straining or coughing may indicate an umbilical hernia, according to Mayo Clinic. The condition is most common in children. Risk factors for umbilical hernias in children include low birth weights and premature birth. Frequent pregnancies and being overweight may render adults vulnerable to umbilical hernias.
An umbilical hernia occurs when the opening in the abdominal muscle that allows umbilical cord to pass through fails to close completely, according to Mayo Clinic. Fluid in the abdominal cavity, obesity and multiple pregnancies may cause the condition in adults.
The condition rarely causes pain in children, but it may cause stomach discomfort in adults, as Mayo Clinic explains. A baby with a swollen, tender or painful hernia or who experiences vomiting requires immediate medical care. Physical examination and imaging tests may aid in diagnosing the problem. To reverse the problem, the doctor may push the hernia back into the abdominal cavity. An umbilical hernia that gets strangulated, obstructs intestines, causes pain or grows larger than 1/2 inch requires surgery.