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Keywords:

  • umbilical cord blood;
  • stem cells;
  • delayed cord clamping;
  • birth;
  • anaemia;
  • preterm

Abstract

  • • 
    Introduction
  • • 
    Early haematopoiesis in foetus
  • • 
    Early versus late clamping of the umbilical cord
  • • 
    Stem cells in human umbilical cord blood
    • - 
      Cellular composition
    • - 
      Usefulness of umbilical cord blood stem cells
  • • 
    First stem cell transplantation at birth
  • • 
    Conclusions

The timing of the umbilical cord clamping at birth is still controversial. In the modern era of medicine, the cord has been clamped early to facilitate resuscitation and stabilization of infants. However, recently delayed cord clamping has been supported by physicians because it allows for the physiological transfer of blood from the placenta to the infant. Many clinical studies have revealed that the delayed cord clamping elevates blood volume and haemoglobin and prevents anaemia in infants. Moreover, since it was known that umbilical cord blood contains various valuable stem cells such as haematopoietic stem cells, endothelial cell precursors, mesenchymal progenitors and multipotent/pluripotent lineage stem cells, the merit of delayed cord clamping has been magnified. In this review, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of delayed cord clamping at birth. We highlight the importance of delayed cord clamping in realizing mankind’s first stem cell transfer and propose that it should be encouraged in normal births.