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Quick Facts

Diaphragmatic Hernia

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Apr 2020| Content last modified Apr 2020
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The diaphragm is the muscle between the chest and belly that helps you breathe. A hernia is a hole or weak spot in a muscle.

What is a diaphragmatic hernia?

A diaphragmatic hernia is a hole or weak spot in the diaphragm that allows organs in the belly to bulge into the chest.

  • Babies can be born with a diaphragmatic hernia

  • The baby's stomach, intestine, liver, or spleen may bulge into the chest on one side and push on the lung

  • A diaphragmatic hernia is almost always on the left

  • It may cause severe breathing problems at birth

If the abdominal organs push into the chest before birth, the lung on that side may not develop normally. If the abdominal organs push into the chest after birth, your baby will have a hard time breathing.

What causes a diaphragmatic hernia?

Doctors aren't sure why some babies develop a diaphragmatic hernia, but it often happens in babies with other birth defects.

How can doctors tell if my child has a diaphragmatic hernia?

How do doctors treat a diaphragmatic hernia?

To treat a diaphragmatic hernia, doctors will:

  • If needed, give your baby oxygen with a breathing machine (ventilator)

  • Do surgery to repair the hole or weak spot in your baby’s diaphragm

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