Diastasis recti refer to a large gap that develops between the two abdominis muscles. This is the muscle that covers the exterior side of the belly. Indeed, this condition is commonly referred to as separation of the abdomen.
The gap between the left and right rectus abdominis muscles naturally develops through stretching of a connective collagen referred to as linea alba. The gap naturally measures about 2.5 cm. However, some newborns are born with a large gap whose measurement exceeds 2.7 cm, which is what is referred to as Diastasis recti. It turns out that this is not a condition that newborns develop. Pregnant women and some men do develop the condition as well.
Diastasis recti present itself in the form of a ridge that begins at the base of the breastbone down to the bottom of the belly. The conditions become visible when an infant or baby tries to sit from sleep or when an infant strains. It is also possible to feel edges of the muscles when an infant or baby is in a relaxed position.
Diastasis recti is a very common condition in infants especially in premature infants and those born of black parents. Development of the condition in infants is usually as a result of underdevelopment of the rectus abdominis muscle, which is normally the case with infants born prematurely.
Development of the condition in pregnant women is usually because of continued stretching of the muscles due to pregnancy. Indeed, over 80% of women with multiple pregnancies do end up developing the condition. Similarly, the condition is very common in men who perform strenuous exercises on a regular basis.
Diagnosis of Diastasis recti is normally by physical examination. A pediatrician normally puts an infant or baby on his/her back before bending the knees with the feet remaining flat and the head raised for the chin to rest on the chest. This technique leads to tensed muscles, which makes it possible for a pediatrician to place his/her fingers on the ridge and taking the measurement. A gap that accommodates two or more fingers is normally diagnosed as Diastasis recti.
There is no treatment for Diastasis recti. In any case, the condition does not present any serious health complication(s) except for weak abdominal strength. Furthermore, the condition normally resolves on its own when an infant attains the age of 8 weeks. It is only in extreme cases where a baby with the condition develops an umbilical hernia that surgery is undertaken to correct it.