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    Diastasis Recti: Why Your Baby Has A Bumpy Stomach, And What You Can Do About It
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    Parenting Health & Safety
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    diastasis recti in infants
    18 December 2014

    Diastasis Recti: Why Your Baby Has A Bumpy Stomach, And What You Can Do About It

    5 mins read
    Health & Safety
    for New Born
    80.4K engaged
    Diastasis Recti is a medical condition where the muscles of the abdominal region separate. This condition heals itself once the baby’s muscles develop and is not life-threatening, typically harmless, and does not warrant worry or paediatric attention.

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    In this article


    What is Diastasis Recti?
    Causes of Diastasis Recti in Infants
    Symptoms of Diastasis Recti in Infants
    Diagnosing Rectus Diastasis in your Developing Baby
    Diastasis Recti Treatment
    Difference Between Diastasis Recti and Hernia
    Diastasis Recti Complications in Infants

    What is Diastasis Recti?


    Diastasis rectus is a common malformation of the abdominal muscles. This condition is quite prevalent in babies. It is a separation between the right and the left side of the abdomen or the muscles that cover the front part of the belly.

    It is normal for parents to fret over any and every abnormality that is seen in their baby. However, everyone is born with their abdominal muscles separated, and the gap is about 2.5 cm until the age of three when the muscles that support the back and the internal organs fully develop. However, in infants suffering from diastasis recti, this gap is as large as 2.7 cm.

    Diastasis Recti

    Causes of Diastasis Recti in Infants

     

    The causes of this condition are as follows:
    • Pressure on the abdomen

      Pressure or increased tension on the walls of the abdomen due to sudden stress on the abdomen area, or sudden strenuous physical activity(jerky movements while laughing, trying to sit up).
    • Underdeveloped abdominal muscles

      In prematurely born babies, the abdominal muscles are a little underdeveloped, which can result in abnormalities such as diastasis recti

     

    Diastasis Recti in Pregnant Women


    Some pregnant women, especially if above 35 years of age, may also develop the problem if they are carrying twins or triplets. This occurs because of the excess pressure that pregnancy exerts on the abdomen.

    Symptoms of Diastasis Recti in Infants


    Diastasis recti look like a separation or a ridge in the middle of the belly. It stretches from the belly button to the lower part of the breastbone and can increase with the straining of muscles. When the baby puts pressure on belly muscles, possibly when trying to sit up or laugh, the condition becomes apparent as the edges of the muscles are visible.

    Diastasis Recti

    Diagnosing Rectus Diastasis in your Developing Baby

    Diastasis recti can be diagnosed by feeling or palpating the front wall of the abdomen with fingers. The edges of the muscle that gets separated can be easily felt when the baby is resting on his back. A baby who exhibits this condition shows no signs of sickness. The condition usually gets cured on its own as the muscles of the abdomen continue to develop and fill up the gap by eventually merging.

    Sometimes, paediatricians may also suggest medical imaging such as sonography and an ultrasound or an abdominal CT scan in uncertain cases.

    The paediatrician will perform a physical examination by putting the infant or baby on her back and bending the knees with the feet to the ground, and the head raised for the chin to rest on the chest. This leads to tensed muscles, which makes it possible for a paediatrician to place fingers on the raised portion of the area and take the measurement. A gap that accommodates two or more fingers (2.7 cm) is diagnosed as Diastasis Recti. There is no treatment for Diastasis recti except for physiotherapeutic exercises. Since the condition rarely presents severe complications. Furthermore, the condition typically resolves within eight weeks.

    Diastasis Recti Treatment

    Normally, this condition heals on its own and does not require medical treatment. Sometimes though, as the muscles merge, abdominal content becomes swollen or herniated and gets trapped in the gap. In a few cases, surgery might be needed to fix a hernia and cover the gap. It is thus essential for you to track baby's progress during regular doctor checkups. If the baby displays signs of distress such as redness, swelling in the abdominal area and vomiting, you must alert a medical professional immediately.

    Difference Between Diastasis Recti and Hernia



    Although the two conditions appear similar in theory, there is a significant difference between the two.

    Hernia

    Diastasis Recti

    An organ or a tissue protrudes and extends out the opening or weak spot in the covering muscle,
    the connective tissue or the membrane that provides support to the internal organ.
    This is characterised by the separation of the abdominal muscles into two halves, creating a space between the two.


    Diastasis Recti Complications in Infants



    Although rare, diastasis recti can cause the following complications when ignored by doctors:
    • A condition called the central coordination disorder where movements are disturbed and delayed
    • The incomplete closing of the abdominal muscle might also cause back pain, spinal twist and further abnormal muscular developments. This condition usually occurs due to the lop-sided or incomplete closing of the rectus abdominous muscles and may go unnoticed by the doctors.
    • If the disproportionate muscles exert uneven pressure, it can lead to an unbalanced rib cage. This can cause pain in babies and further develop into abnormalities of the skeletal system.
    Diastasis recti is not usually a cause of concern and heals with time. However, you still must keep a tab on the developmental progress of your baby and consult your doctor as soon as you notice anything abnormal to avoid future problems.

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    Newborn Week 3 — Baby Growth and Development


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