Umbilical Cord

Meaning and definition

In placental mammals, the umbilical cord or ari-ari in Bahasa Indonesia (also called the birth cord or funiculus umbilicalis) is the connecting cord from the developing embryo or fetus to the placenta. During prenatal development, the umbilical cord comes from the same zygote as the fetus and (in humans) normally contains two arteries (the umbilical arteries) and one vein (the umbilical vein), buried within Wharton's jelly. The umbilical vein supplies the fetus with oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood from the placenta. Conversely, the umbilical arteries return the deoxygenated, nutrient-depleted blood.[1]

Cord Length

The length of the umbilical cord varies from no cord (achordia) to 300 cm, with diameters up to 3 cm. Umbilical cords are helical in nature, with as many as 380 helices. An average umbilical cord is 55 cm long, with a diameter of 1-2 cm and 11 helices. For unknown reasons, most cords coil to the left. About 5% of cords are shorter than 35 cm, and another 5% are longer than 80 cm.[2]

Taking care of umbilical cord

When the umbilical cord is cut, it leaves a stump, which then dries, heals, and usually falls off within 1 - 3 weeks. While the cord is healing, keep it as clean and as dry as possible. In order to keep the cord dry, sponge bathe your baby rather than submersing him in a tub of water.

Watch the umbilical cord for infection. This does not occur often, but can spread quickly if it does occur. Signs of infection are:

* Foul-smelling, yellow drainage from the cord
* Redness and tenderness of the skin around the cord

Another uncommon problem is active bleeding. This usually occurs when the cord is pulled off too soon. Allow the cord to fall off naturally, even if it is only hanging on by a thread. In active bleeding, every time you wipe away a drop of blood, another drop appears. If the cord does actively bleed, call your baby’s doctor immediately.

Sometimes instead of completely drying, the cord will form a granuloma, which is pink scar tissue. This granuloma drains a light-yellowish fluid. This condition will usually go away in about a week, but if not, your pediatrician may need to burn off (cauterize) the granulation tissue.[3]

newborn umbilical cord

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Notes:

[1] Wikipedia.org
[2] emedicine.medscape.com
[3] nlm.nih.gov

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