The Umbilical Cord

A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
                          ~ Ecclesiastes 4:12

The umbilical cord is a fascinating structure. It contains three blood vessels: two arteries and one vein. The vein delivers oxygen-rich blood to the baby from the placenta, and the two arteries return oxygen-poor blood to the placenta.

          The umbilical cord is becoming an increasingly important source of stem cells (mesenchymal stromal cells, MSCs) with the potential to treat a growing list of ailments. MSC cord cells are being used in clinical trials to treat wounds, strokes, and arthritis, as well as liver, neurological, hematological, gastroenterological, cardiovascular, orthopaedic, and autoimmune disorders. Many women are choosing to store (or "bank") these umbilical cord cells for possible future use.

          A unique connective tissue called Wharton's jelly is present in the umbilical cord and is the source of most cord MSCs. One important and interesting feature of this jelly is that it prevents the umbilical cord from getting knotted in the womb. Even if you intentionally tie the cord into a knot, the jelly prevents the blood vessels in the cord from getting pinched, as demonstrated in the video.*

*video courtesy of Angie Hotz, doula

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