Placenta vs Umbilical Cord
Umbilical cord and placenta together forms the lifeline between mother and fetus. These two structures are extremely important to ensure the survival of the fetus inside a mother’s womb. Placenta and umbilical cord are considered as a characteristic feature of the largest group of mammals, called ‘placental mammals’. With the help of these special structures, females can carry their developing young, internally in a uterus and nourish them until the delivery.
Placenta is a specialized disk shaped organ that attached to the uterine wall and is connected to the fetus via the umbilical cord. It contains a fetal component, the chorionic frondosum, and a maternal component, the deciduas basalis. Placenta brings maternal blood into close contact with the fetal blood and serves as the provisional lungs, intestine, and kidneys of the fetus, without mixing maternal and fetal blood. It is also known as an organ of interchange between mother and fetus.
Placenta can produce pregnancy related hormones including human chronic gonadotropin (hCG), estrogen, and progesterone. Human chronic gonadotropin maintains the mother’s corpus luteum, while estrogen and progesterone maintain the uterine endometrium. Placenta is also important in exchanging gases and detoxifying toxic molecules, thereby protecting the fetus from toxic substances.
Umbilical cord is the birth cord, which contains two arteries and one vein. Food, oxygen, and other chemicals are transported to the fetus through the arteries, and wastes produce in the fetus are returned through the vein. One end of umbilical cord is attached to the fetus at its navel while the other end is attached to mother at the placenta; hence it makes the connection between mother and fetus.
In humans, umbilical cord starts to develop at 5 weeks after conception and develop progressively until 28 week of pregnancy. Normally it reaches average length of 55 to 60cm and allows baby to move around without causing any damage to the cord or the placenta.
What is the difference between Placenta and Umbilical Cord?
• Placenta is connected to the fetus by umbilical cord.
• Umbilical cord evolved from the allantois whereas most of the placenta evolved from the chorion.
• Placenta produces hormones, while umbilical cord does not produce any hormone.
• In placenta, maternal blood and fetal blood come into close contact, and nutrients are transferred from maternal blood to fetal blood, while waste products are transferred from fetal blood to maternal blood. Umbilical cord carries fetal blood to placenta, while it carries maternal blood to fetus.
• Placenta is the place where nutrients and wastes are exchanged between mother and fetus, whereas umbilical cord serves as the link between fetus and placenta.
• Umbilical cord is a narrow tube-like structure, while placenta is a disk- shaped organ.
• Placenta is attached to the uterine wall, whereas two ends of umbilical cord are attached to placenta and navel of fetus.