To Delay or Not To Delay: Impacts of Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping

When giving birth, it is a common practice for doctors/midwives/caregivers to clamp and cut the umbilical cord that connects the mother and the newborn infant. Usually, the cord is cut within ten seconds after giving birth. But recently, the idea of delaying the clamping and cutting of cord blood is spreading across the world, with scientists conducting studies about it and mothers actually giving it a try.

Why are they choosing this over the usual quick clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord?

This article will show you the two sides of delayed umbilical cord clamping and cutting— the advantages and the disadvantages. While this idea seems more beneficial than destructive, there are still dangers to consider when choosing to delay the clamping and cutting of the cord.

 

INSIDE THE CORD

To delay or not to delay— that is the burning question. Before weighing the pros and cons of delayed cord clamping and cutting, you must first understand what the umbilical cord is.

The umbilical cord is the one that joins a fetus (later becoming a fully-developed baby) to its mother. The one end is actually attached to the infant’s stomach (the navel, to be exact— this is why the umbilical cord is also called a “navel string”) while the other end is in the placenta of the mother’s womb.

Now, why is this cord so important to both the mother and the baby?

The cord consists of one vein and two arteries, and all are responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood and nutrients from the mother to the baby, as well as returning waste products and deoxygenated blood from the baby back to the placenta. The umbilical cord also serves as a medium for the placenta to give antibodies to the baby, so it will be immune from infections for up to three months after birth.

To sum things up, the umbilical cord is a healthy link between the mother and the infant. Whether delaying the clamp-and-cut process will bring more nutrients to the baby takes another batch of facts, though.

 

DELAY AND SUSTAIN

One study suggests that, after giving birth, there might be a good reason to let the umbilical cord linger on the mother and the baby for a while.

According to neonatologist Dr. Heike Rabe of the Brighton& Sussex Medical School in UK, infants benefit from getting an extra supply of blood from the placenta at birth, which is caused by the delayed clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord. Since the cord is still attached to the mother and the baby, all the blood and nutrients (including iron, which is very important in the development of the baby’s brain) flowing through the navel string can still be acquired by the baby, even if it’s already out of the womb.

“The extra blood at birth helps the baby to cope better with the transition from life in the womb, where everything is provided for them by the placenta and the mother, to the outside world,” Rabe stated. Therefore, a few extra minutes is encouraged before completely cutting the umbilical cord.

Swedish infants study

Several studies have been conducted to prove that delaying the umbilical cord clamping has beneficial effects to the baby. Some of these studies have been done in the past, and they have shown positive effects during the later moments of the baby’s infancy. However, few studies (one in particular) have dared to look way past the infancy and into the early years of the baby.

This study was conducted with half of 263 newborn babies in Sweden, which were grouped into two teams: those whose cords were clamped after more than three minutes after birth, and those who had their cords clamped within ten seconds after birth.

Fast forward to four years after that experiment, these children were tested for various skills, such as IQ, social, motor, problem-solving, behavior, and communication. The results showed that those whose cords were clamped a bit late got fairly high scores in fine motor skills and social skills, especially the boys. Rabe speculates that the reason for girls not showing significant improvement in this study is because of their high estrogen levels while in the womb.

More for preemies

While the practice of delaying the clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord can clearly benefit healthy term babies, Rabe believes that pre-term infants (or premature babies) would gain more from this process.

Premature babies, whose cord-clamping were delayed, have shown improvement in various medical aspects. These infants had better blood pressure a few days after birth, required fewer medicines and blood transfusions, had lower chances of a dangerous bowel injury, and experienced less bleeding into their brains.

 

OFF WITH THE CORD— IMMEDIATELY!

It is fairly reasonable to not get your hopes high after reading the advantages of delayed umbilical cord clamping, because along with the pros comes the cons.

The highly-recognized disadvantage of delayed cord clamping is the possible (and higher) risk of jaundice, which is a bilirubin build-up in the blood that results to the yellowing of the infant’s skin and eyes. Because the baby will be getting extra blood with the delay of the cord’s clamping, there could be a chance of a surplus in the infant’s red blood cells— which is possible to result in a normal cell breakdown, causing the bilirubin build-up.

There is another risk in delaying the umbilical cord clamping. According to Dr. Scott Lorch, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine’s associate professor of pediatrics, a condition known as polycythemia could also stem from delaying a cord’s clamping. It is a disease caused by a very high count of red blood cells, which could result to blood clots, strokes, or respiratory distress to the baby.

However, these risks have not been fully proven on all types of infants yet, and according to Lorch, “We should see whether similar effects are seen in higher-risk populations, such as the low socioeconomic population, racial and ethnic minorities and those at higher risk for neurodevelopmental delay.”

 

WEIGHING THE OPTIONS

Whatever you choose— delaying the cord clamping or immediately having it cut— always note the possible side effects both to you and your future child. If in doubt, remember the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation on cord clamping: not earlier than one minute after birth, for the mother and the baby’s health improvement.

Beat The Decline: Blood Supply Shortage In Summer and How To Stop It

Every two seconds, a patient in the United States is in need of lifesaving blood. With this in mind, the American Red Cross estimates that over 41,000 blood donations are needed every single day. Actually, this number is possible to meet, considering that there are billions of people in the United States, let alone the whole world.

The only problem? There are not enough blood donors who are willing to give and give, just as long as they have enough blood in their bodies.

The worst part is… those who donate are usually out of the scene in significant breaks of their lives, which is during the summertime.

With this article, you will be able to understand why summer is, unfortunately, not a good time for patients who depend on blood for their lives. It will also help you realize that blood donation should not stop when the summer season kicks in.

 

DECLINE DEFINED

According to the American Red Cross, blood donations tend to decline when summertime starts. To support this data, they have their recent spring survey of their blood and platelet donors, which states that almost 90 percent of them have planned to take vacations this summer season.

This best explains the decrease in blood supply during summer. People take vacations— sometimes out of the country— and enjoy their free days apart from school or work, so, as a result, blood donation centers are not getting enough blood bags from their usual donors. In short, those patients who need blood every two seconds are not receiving enough lifesaving blood that they should be acquiring.

Sadly, patients who rely on blood cannot easily take vacations like their donors, so a lot of blood transfusions are still needed even in summer. The American Red Cross alone is in need of an estimated 15,000 blood donations every day for about 2,600 centers and hospitals nationwide, so they heavily rely on their volunteer donors to do the wonders of blood donation.

What is more depressing than active donors taking vacation is the fact that the donating population is actually a small one.

Greg Cogoli, a consistent blood donor and volunteer coordinator for the American Red Cross’ blood services in Tuscon, Arizona, states that out of all the eligible blood donors, only less than 10 percent actually give blood. “Very few people ever donate, and of those people who donate, a large percentage donate once and don’t donate again,” he said. “So it really, really behooves anyone who can to give it a try.”

Patients who rely on blood to save their lives actually need it because of various medical reasons, such as blood disorders, cancer, accidents, surgeries, and more. This is why the need for sufficient blood supply never wanes.

 

CARE TO DONATE?

The American Red Cross, as well as other organizations, is highly encouraging more people to donate blood and give the gift of life— especially in summertime.

Because blood shortage is mostly felt during the summer season, it should be a must for more eligible donors to consider going to blood banks or blood drives and donating blood. This kind of participation is important not only for the American Red Cross, but for the people who will be receiving it, as well. All blood types will be greatly appreciated, although there is an intense need for negative types, such as A negative, B negative, and O negative.

Aside from whole blood donations, the American Red Cross states that there is also an immediate need for blood platelets. This component is helpful in blood clotting, so if you are willing to donate whole blood, why not throw in some of your platelets, too?

 

SUMMERTIME = GIFT-GIVING TIME

This year, the American Red Cross is organizing an event that is directly aimed at people who are considering taking vacations throughout the summer.

The “100 days of summer, 100 days of hope” campaign is being pushed by the Red Cross just in time for World Blood Donor Day on June 14… and for the rest of the summer period. It is officially sponsored by Suburban Propane, a nationwide distributor of fuel oil and propane and a marketer of natural electricity and gas in Whippany, New Jersey. This event is also organized for the Memorial Day holiday, which started on May 25.

To help encourage potential donors to participate in this lifesaving event, those who have donated blood from May 23-25 received a limited-edition Red Cross RuMe tote bag.

This campaign is sure to help increase the supply of blood throughout the summer. Suburban Propane’s CEO Mark Wienberg assures the public— and the patients— that the amount of blood and platelets in centers will be enough for hundreds of patients who need them. “The Suburban Propane family is proud to support the mission of the Red Cross and help ensure that blood and platelets are available for patients in need during the challenging summer months,” Wienberg says. “By partnering with the Red Cross, we are able to continue a noble cause that improves the lives of those in our communities.”

 

JOIN AND DONATE NOW!

To join the campaign and donate your own blood, you are free to choose from three options by the American Red Cross: you can call them at 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), visit their website at redcrossblood.org, or download their American Red Cross Blood Donor App, so you can have the comfort of setting up a blood donation appointment on your own mobile phone.

Whatever your choice is, just make sure that you meet all the donor eligibility requirements and— voila!— you will be able to help your fellow countrymen retain their lives with every pint of your blood.

Do not let the supply of blood decline this summer. Make a move and be a hero, today!

Finally, Gays Can Donate: Gay Ban On Blood Donation Ready To Be Lifted

Blood donation, just like any other activities involving the society, also has its own rules and regulations. These pointers serve as the basis for potential, interested donors if they are eligible to give blood or not.

The basic set of rules— such as age limit, weight limit, health status, and identification— is, oftentimes, not a big problem for people who wish to donate, since the bracket for age and weight is very attainable by most of the world’s population (minimum of 17 years old for the age and at least 110 pounds for the weight in the United States). The other rules, though— such as illness history, tattoos/piercings, malaria risk, etcetera— come as a challenge for donors who just want to help. If proven that you have a certain disease that could affect the blood you will be giving, then you will be deferred for as long as you have that illness.

Such is the case of homosexual and bisexual people— especially men. But with the recent news of gay ban on blood donations being scrapped by the authorities, things could be brighter for the gay community and the blood industry… or not.

In this article, we will discover how— and why— homosexual men were banned in the first place, as well as the impact of recent events in both the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and the blood donation community.

 

BANNED NO MORE

On May 12, 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a new federal policy, stating that homosexual and bisexual men are now allowed to donate blood— a far cry from their situation since they were banned from donating blood.

This statement is included in the FDA’s draft guidance, which was initially proposed last December, and will be used to collect comments/reactions from the public for 60 days before releasing the final policy.

So, what was the reason for this sudden turn of events?

According to Dr. Peter Marks, FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research deputy director, they decided to consider lifting the blood donation ban on gay men because of the events which transpired in Australia, a country which implemented a one-year deferral for homosexuals fifteen years ago. “These studies documented no adverse effects on the safety of the blood supply with a one-year deferral,” Marks said. The innovation in technology and changing times also contributed to the ban being completely obsolete.

If this policy is ever implemented, the US will be one with various countries— such as Sweden, UK, Australia, and Argentina, all of which had already imposed the one-year deferral in gay men— in terms of their regulations in blood donation. Other countries which do not totally ban homosexuals from donating (but have deferrals, too) are South Africa (six months deferral), and Canada (five years deferral).

In addition, the American Medical Association’s president, Dr. Robert Wah, commends the FDA for their life-changing decision to stop the gay ban in blood donation. “The AMA fully supports and has been a strong advocate for eliminating these current public policies as we believe that the latest scientific evidence should dictate blood and tissue donation deferral periods to ensure the safety of the national blood supply,” Wah said. “The AMA’s policy supports using scientifically-based deferral periods that are consistently and fairly applied to donors based on their risk level.”

 

THE ORIGIN OF THE BAN

Homosexuals, especially men, were not always deferred as blood donors. However, an epidemic in the late 1970s changed the rules and regulations of blood donation when it comes to gay men.

If you are a keen observer of the blood donation rules, you may notice the clause on sexual behavior/disease. One important rule for male blood donors is you cannot donate if you “are a man who has had sex with another man since 1977, even once.” This is the year when the AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hit the shores of the United States.

Men who have had sexual intercourse with other men, or MSM, were considered to carry HIV or hepatitis B, which can easily affect the quality of their blood. This is why MSM were banned from giving blood at all— until now.

The policy of permanent deferral for MSM— or even people who have had sexual contact with sex workers, injected drugs in their system, or women who engaged in sexual intercourse with a member of the MSM— became apparent in 1983 and was recognized by all blood donation centers until today.

 

HURRAH FOR GAYS?

This proposed policy seems like a breath of fresh air for gay men who have been wishing to donate blood ever since they reached the required age. But wait— there is more!

According to Marks, almost half of the deferred gay men population will now be able to freely donate blood because of this policy. But, the proposed action will only be good news to those who are not sexually active anymore.

Yes, this “freedom” comes with a little catch: gay men who are sexually active are still restricted from donating blood, since the new US policy will implement a maximum one-year deferral for homosexuals, especially men in monogamous relationships. In short, if you are a man and you just engaged in a same-gender sexual activity in, let us say, the past month, then you are still banned from donating blood.

It does not sound good now, does it?

While it is considered as a small step to the improvement of the way people view the gay community, activists still question the one-year deferral decision. According to Slate columnist Mark Joseph Stern, “The one-year deferral policy is still rooted in an outdated, insulting vision of gay men as diseased, promiscuous lechers. It’s utterly illogical to forbid a monogamous gay man from donating while permitting promiscuous straight people to give as much blood as they want,” he said.

However, this proposed policy will still be beneficial to the gay community. Finally, homosexuals who want to donate blood can do so— as long as they have practiced abstinence for a full year. Nevertheless, its impact in the MSM group will surely be felt by both the LGBT community and the blood industry.

 

BLOOD BANK’S ADVANTAGE

Yes, this news is a good one for gay men, but it will be most beneficial to hundreds of blood donation centers across the US.

Blood shortages are not an uncommon thing in blood donation centers, and when this proposed policy is finally implemented, it is guaranteed that the number of blood donations will double up, resulting to an improvement in the blood supply all over the US.

Because of the expected increase in blood supply because of potential homosexual donors, the FDA will make sure that the blood coming from them will fit the health standards. This is why they will implement a blood surveillance system that aims to ensure the overall safety of the expected blood supply, as well as monitor the effect of the change in policy once it is implemented.

 

WAITING FOR THE CHANGE

There is no doubt that the change homosexuals have been dreaming of for the past three decades is just around the corner. Once the ban on gay men donating blood has been implemented, there will surely be an obvious change in both communities: the blood donation community and the gay community.

When that time comes, the term “gay” will not just be used to represent other men’s sexual orientation, but also for the feeling of euphoria that they will experience once they donate blood.

The Lowdown on Platelet Products

Blood, as red and plain as it looks, is not just a simple human liquid. It is actually composed of many components responsible for the whole safety of the body. Each component contains essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals that have individual purposes and effects in the overall health status of our body. These parts are identified as red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, and platelets.

Although it is only less than 1% of the human blood (and it is sharing a position with white blood cells), platelets are just as important as the other components of the blood. Also called thrombocytes, platelets are colorless like plasma, and they help in the prevention or complete halt of bleeding. These small cell fragments are very instrumental in various medical procedures, such as organ transplants, cancer treatments, or surgery. And, unlike other blood components— which can be stored for more than 20 days to a full year— platelets can only be stored for five days, in room temperature and with constant agitation to prevent possible clumping.

Just like plasma, platelets are also used in lifesaving products that are very helpful in patients of various diseases. This article will serve as a product guide to people who want to know what platelet-derived products, methods, and medications are there to aid in their ailments.

 

PLATELET-DERIVED PRODUCTS

Platelets can be turned and used into various products for patients with different kinds of illnesses. The following are some of the most recognized platelet-derived products:

Frozen platelets

Once out of the body and separated from the blood, platelets can be cryopreserved— a common method used to preserve cells or tissues by freezing them at very low temperatures— at negative 80 degrees Celsius for up to ten years, in 6% dimethylsulfoxide or DMSO. Frozen platelets serve as the only alternative to fresh platelets.

Cold liquid platelets

These are platelets which are stored at room temperature (22 degrees Celsius) for up to five days. As of the present time, three approaches are used to store cold liquid platelets: slowing down cytoskeleton actin assembly or using antifreeze glycoproteins to prevent the shape changes which are often seen in chilled platelets, and making use of ThromboSol as a cryoprotectant to give better retention of in vitro function.

Photohemically-treated platelets

This kind of platelet-derived product is being used clinically in Europe, and is effective in deactivate bacteria, protozoa, and viruses by destroying their DNA.

Lyophilized platelets

Although the effective and positive result of lyophilized platelets in humans has not been proven yet, they have shown hemostatic effects in thrombocytopenic animals, such as rabbits and rats. Because of the fixation step in processing lyophilized platelets (they are fixed by 1.8% paraformaldehyde and freeze-dried with 5% albumin), they have been proven to kill microorganisms and increase their own shelf life.

Platelet-derived microparticles

Platelet-derived microparticles can come from outdated platelets, and can be stored for up to two years at four degrees Celsius. This product can be used to patients who are unresponsive or resistant to conventional transfusions of platelets.

Culture-derived platelets

Culture-derived platelets have not been proven to do any positive results in patients yet, but further studies and research are still ongoing. However, these platelets— which were the result of a laboratory experiment in 1995, which involved growing platelets from megakaryocyte progenitors— have been declared to be similar to fresh platelets.

 

PLATELET-DERIVED GROWTH FACTORS

Aside from the platelet-derived products mentioned above, there are also substances known as platelet-derived growth factors or PDGF. These are released from platelets during the formation of clot. PDFG has many variants, and the following are from human platelets (all in lyophilized powder form):

Platelet-Derived Endothelial Cell Growth Factor

Platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor, or ECGF1, is the one responsible for promoting angiogenesis in vivo and stimulating the in vitro growth of various endothelial cells. It is also the angiogenesis of colon cancer in humans.

Platelet-Derived Growth Factor-AA

Platelet-Derived Growth Factor-AA, or PDGF -AA, is one of the three growth factors with Escherichia coli (E. coli) as the recombinant host. PDGF -AA is used for cell culture applications.

Platelet-Derived Growth Factor -BB

Platelet-Derived Growth Factor -BB is the other PDGF with E. coli as the recombinant host. PDGF -BB mediates the tropism of hMSCs (human mesenchymal stem cells) for malignant gliomas.

Platelet-Derived Growth Factor-AB

Platelet-Derived Growth Factor-AB is, simply put, the combination of Platelet-Derived Growth Factor-AA and Platelet-Derived Growth Factor-BB. It is also used for cell culture applications.

 

PLATELET GEL

There is a new gel in town!

Aside from the growth factors and platelet-derived products mentioned above, there is a new medical breakthrough that involves human blood platelets: the platelet gel.

Platelet gel facts

Basically, it seems like a usual healing gel that a patient will apply on the infected area of his/her body. But, what sets it apart from other medication gels is the fact that it contains platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which is a concentrated mixture of substances that is very essential in healing.

How platelet gel works

This platelet gel, which is widely known as the Magellan Bio-Bandage, works by copying the final stage of clotting. The PRP activates platelets, turns fibrinogen to fibrin, and encourages platelet aggregation. Then, calcium chloride is included to counteract the anticoagulant citrate, therefore creating a glue-like texture that is rich in platelets.

Uses of platelet gel

The gel has been thought to improve healing and serve as a barrier against potential infection.  Currently, it is being used in the following:

  • various studies addressing thermal burns
  • post-surgery sternum repairs
  • cosmetic surgery
  • hip-bone injury healing
  • controlling of unsuturable bleeding sites
  • oozing diffusion connected with redo open-heart surgeries
  • macular hole surgery

 

PLATELET REALIZATIONS

By this time, it is normal to think about the wonders of the body, especially the human blood. Just think of the many, many lifesaving options you have inside your body!

The human blood alone is swarming with various health components that can benefit not only you, but also millions of patients around the world. Plasma, which is widely recognized, is definitely one of them, but do not forget platelets. They may only comprise less than 1% of the blood, but when processed and strengthened, they are powerful enough to save lives.

Donate Blood and Save Lives at Carnegie Mellon University’s Blood Drive

Many people are in need of blood every minute of the day, that is why it is so important for people to consider blood donation as one of their glorious contribution to mankind.

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To continue this lifesaving mission, Carnegie Mellon University is hosting a blood drive for students and faculty members, as well.

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Those who want to give the gift of life can visit the nearest blood bank in the university, the Central Blood Bank in Boulevard of the Allies.

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Qualified donors can become life-savers when they donate blood in any of the blood banks all over Pittsburgh.

Giving blood is a noble thing to do. What’s more, knowing that you saved a life with just a tiny transfusion is very rewarding.

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Donate blood today! Sign up on our website for an appointment in any Pennsylvania blood banks and, together, let us all save lives!