umbilical cord

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umbilical cord

umbilical cord (ŭmbĭlˈĭkəl), cordlike structure about 22 in. (56 cm) long in the pregnant human female, extending from the abdominal wall of the fetus to the placenta. Its chief function is to carry nourishment and oxygen from the placenta to the fetus and return waste products to the placenta from the fetus. It consists of a continuation of the membrane covering the fetus and encloses a mucoid jelly through which one vein carries oxygenated blood and two arteries carry unoxygenated blood. After birth, the cord is clamped off and cut. It is sometimes abnormal in length and may break prematurely or form loops or knots, which may asphyxiate the fetus. The stump of the cord that is left attached to the infant withers and drops off, leaving the scar known as the navel.

Because umbilical cord blood is especially rich in stem cells (cells that give rise to red blood cells and lymphocytes) some parents choose to save it in private cord blood banks in case of future need as a transplant alternative to bone marrow, but in many diseases treated with stem cells such autologous transplants are contraindicated. Studies have shown that people not related to the donor (genetically mismatched) can benefit from transplants of umbilical cord blood in combating leukemia and other cancers. Cord blood has also been used to repair heart and other tissue defects in children with certain metabolic disorders.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Umbilical Cord


an anatomical formation in humans and other placental mammals that connects the fetus with the placenta, and—through the placenta—with the mother. The umbilical cord consists mainly of gelatinous tissue known as Wharton’s jelly, through which the two umbilical arteries and the umbilical vein pass. When the fetus is full-term, the umbilical cordis 1–1.5 cm thick and about 50 cm long.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about an umbilical cord?

An umbilical cord in a dream can represent a source of nourishment, but it often carries less pleasant connotations of dependency, or a crippling emotional tie to one’s mother.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

umbilical cord

[əm′bil·ə·kəl ‚kȯrd]
(aerospace engineering)
Any of the servicing electrical or fluid lines between the ground or a tower and an uprighted rocket vehicle before the launch. Also known as umbilical.
The long, cylindrical structure containing the umbilical arteries and vein, and connecting the fetus with the placenta.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

umbilical cord

the long flexible tubelike structure connecting a fetus with the placenta: it provides a means of metabolic interchange with the mother
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005