Umbilical Cord Resources

Umbilical Cord Resources


To view the Umbilical Cord Testing Panels and Collection Instructions, click here.


Umbilical Cord Videos

Targeted vs. Universal Umbilical Cord Collection

CCDG Presentation

The Impact of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome on One West Virginia Community by Dr. Loudin

The Importance of Following Forensic Principles in Newborn Drug Testing by Dr. Irene Shu

Umbilical Cord Drug Testing: A Discussion of Prevalent Issues

Umbilical Cord Collection Training Video

USDTL Live episode 2 CordStat Origin with Dianne Montgomery

Why Test For Designer Stimulants ("Bath Salts") in Umbilical Cord

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Umbilical Cord Infographics

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Umbilical Cord Articles

Real Time Data 03-Aug-2015

A Moment In Time 02-Feb-2015

Lost Opportunities 02-Feb-2015

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USDTL Umbilical Cord Research

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Umbilical Cord Poster Presentations

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USDTL Umbilical Cord Assisted Research

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Umbilical Cord Slide Presentations

Umbilical Cord Testing: A Discussion of Prevalent Issues

The Impact of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome on One West Virginia Community

The Importance of Following Forensic Principles in Newborn Drug Testing by Dr. Irene Shu

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Umbilical Cord Announcements

Report Change Notification Report Change Notification

18-Apr-2016

Effective July 18, 2016, USDTL will be implementing a new way of reporting quantitative results. In order to satisfy accreditation requirement, the concentrations of drugs exceeding the Upper Limit of Quantification (ULOQ) for any given drug will be reported as > ULOQ (greater than ULOQ). The ULOQ will be provided.

USDTL is now ISO/IEC 17025 Accredited USDTL is now ISO/IEC 17025 Accredited

22-Sep-2015

We are proud to announce that we are the first laboratory in the world to be ISO/IEC 17025 accredited for drug and alcohol testing in umbilical cord, fingernail, and toenail specimens. On September 4, 2015, USDTL attained ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation showing full compliance with the international testing standards. We have received our accreditation from ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board, demonstrating technical competence in the field of forensic testing. The scope of our ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation encompasses all specimen types and methods of analysis utilized in our laboratory.

Improved Screening Assay For Buprenorphine in Umbilical Cord Improved Screening Assay For Buprenorphine in Umbilical Cord

01-Jul-2014

USDTL has succeeded in improving their umbilical cord screening assay for buprenorphine by reducing the positive result cutoff from 1.0 ng/g down to 0.5 ng/g. The improved umbilical cord buprenorphine assay gives the best possible detection of buprenorphine exposure, making it possible to identify more newborns exposed to buprenorphine in utero.

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Umbilical Cord FAQs

*Click the green and white plus sign beside each question to view the answer.

Can you test for alcohol exposure in umbilical cord?

Yes, alcohol exposure can be tested individually or by adding the Umbilical Cord Testing EtG add-on to any of the Umbilical Cord Testing drug panels. The EtG add-on screens for Ethyl Glucuronide, a direct alcohol biomarker, indicating exposure to ethanol (drinking alcohol).

Does Umbilical Cord Testing use umbilical cord blood or umbilical cord tissue?

Umbilical Cord Testing uses 6 inches of umbilical cord tissue that has been drained and patted dry.

Have results been used in court cases?

Yes, the analysis of a number of tissue types for the presence of drugs of abuse has been used in every state for decades. Specifically, our umbilical cord testing has been used to provide evidence of drug use by the mother in numerous states. Additionally, the detection of drug in umbilical cord was used as evidence of maternal drug consumption in a murder case in South Carolina and that interpretation was upheld on appeal to the SC Supreme Court.

How does using a forensic drug test help the child later in life?

There are several reasons detecting a substance exposed newborn is important. Early detection provides many more options than detection at a later stage in the child’s life, and 

  1. Early detection of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and fetal alcohol effect (FAE) allow newborns to be identified and enrolled into early intervention and community programs. New programs are showing dramatic improvements in children identified earlier in life. 
  2. Detection of a exposed child can allow help, intervention and treatment to be offered to the mother, so that exposure during future pregnancies may be prevented. 
  3. As programs, understanding, and treatments improve, substance exposure detection, at a very early stage, can only help the outcome of the child, mother and family.


How long does the laboratory keep remaining umbilical cord tissue?

Negatives are kept for 1 week, and positives are kept for 1 year.

How should umbilical cord tissue be stored?

The sample is stable at room temperature for 7 days, can be refrigerated (2-8° C) for up to 3 weeks and frozen (< -10° C) up to 1 year.

If the quantity of drug or alcohol metabolite detected is high, could that be an indication that the donor (1) was consuming a large amount, (2) was using recently, or (3) was using frequently?

There are too many variables for anyone to know time of use, dosage, or frequency from the result(s) of a drug test. Reservoir matrices such as hair, fingernail, umbilical cord, and meconium continuously collect drug and alcohol biomarkers. This makes it difficult to determine specific details of use. Because the biomarker is collected over a period of time, the results represent total accumulation that cannot be pin-pointed to specific times/dates/dosages, etc.

Is umbilical cord genetically fetal tissue or tissue of the mother?

The fetus generates umbilical cord during the first five weeks, therefore, it is fetal tissue.

The umbilical cord was fixed in formalin. May it still be used for the Umbilical Cord Testing?

No, Umbilical Cord Testing has not been validated for tissues that have been fixed in formalin.

What is the window of drug exposure for umbilical cord?

Dose/response studies have not been performed and will most likely never be performed for ethical reasons. However, when compared to meconium, which has a detection window of up to 20 weeks, Umbilical Cord Testing has demonstrated an agreement greater than 90 percent.

When will I receive umbilical cord results?

Test  Negative Result Positive Result
Umbilical Cord Drug Panel 1 working day 2 working days
Umbilical Cord EtOH 2 working days 3 working days

Why is Umbilical Cord Testing becoming the gold standard in newborn testing over meconium?

USDTL’s Umbilical Cord Testing is groundbreaking in newborn testing because it solves several problems:

  • Every newborn has an umbilical cord; meconium is not available for every birth.
  • Umbilical cord collection is a one-step procedure; meconium collection requires cumulative collections.
  • Umbilical Cord Testing offers improved positivity rates for Methamphetamine, Benzodiazepines and Opiates.
  • Umbilical Cord Testing improves the integrity of the chain-of-custody: only one donor and one collector are present during the collection. Meconium has multiple collections and multiple collectors.
  • Umbilical Cord Testing improves turnaround time because umbilical cord is ready for transport a few minutes after the birth, while meconium passages can be delayed for days before being sent to the lab.

Why was one matrix positive and another negative on the same donor?

There are several explanations for this. 

  1. Different sample matrices have different detection time frames. The result of any second collected specimen has no bearing on the validity of a first collected specimen. For example, a hair sample with a three month window of detection might test positive for a particular substance, while a urine sample from the same donor, with a 2-3 day window of detection, might test negative. In this case, the donor has used that substance within the past three months, but may not have used it within the most recent three days.
  2. The result of any second collected specimen has no bearing on the validity of a first collected specimen. Therefore, a negative result observed for the umbilical cord does not refute a positive result observed on the maternal urine specimen and the reverse is true as well. There are many legitimate reasons for discrepant urine and umbilical cord results. 
  3. The urine specimen was a screen only result and was not confirmed using an appropriate mass spectrometric method. The screen only urine result is a clinically valid result, however, without an appropriate mass spectrometric confirmation, the urine result has no value in a forensic proceeding. 
  4. Lastly, some placentas can prevent some compounds from reaching the fetus. There are documented cases of maternal ingestion without in utero exposure.

Why was the mother’s urine positive and the umbilical cord negative?

There are several explanations for this. Different specimen types have varying thresholds for positivity. For example, a single dose of methamphetamine 12 hours prior to collection is highly likely to produce a positive urine result, however less likely to generate a positive result for a specimen type with a longer detection window such as umbilical cord, meconium or hair.

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