Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


W.M. Keck Science Department

Reader 1

Ann Moormann, Ph.D.

Reader 2

Brian Duistermars, Ph.D.

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.


In December 2019, the surfacing and spread of a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, resulted in the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a viral antigen, SARS-CoV-2 poses a particular threat to the obstetric population due to physiological and immunological changes that women face during pregnancy. While recent studies have found that SARS-CoV-2 may have better clinical outcomes as compared to other betacoronaviruses, adverse pregnancy events such as ICU admission, preeclampsia, and/or preterm birth have been associated with COVID-19. Progress has been made in better understanding the pathophysiology of SARS-CoV-2 in pregnancy, but there is still much to be known about the interaction between the two conditions. As SARS-CoV-2 spreads largely through asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carriers, serological surveys of the virus help us better understand the actual transmission rates and can also provide important information about the mechanisms of the humoral immune response. These antibody specific studies of SARS-CoV-2 are of particular interest to the obstetric population as inclusion of umbilical cord serum allows researchers to gain insight on vertical transmission, or the maternal-fetal transfer of antibodies across the placenta. As a neonate’s immune defense system is dependent on the immune cells it receives from its mother, the potential for vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies is critical as the pandemic continues. Using data from serological experiments carried out at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School and its partnering Memorial Medical Center, this study further investigates antibody levels in the umbilical cord blood across various clinical factors in the mother. Cord blood RBD IgG antibody levels did not significantly vary from antibody levels of nonpregnant individuals, nor were they impacted by diagnosis of preeclampsia. A strong correlation was found between trimester of maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection and neonatal antibody levels with second trimester infections resulting in higher levels. The results of this study have significant implications for SARS-CoV-2 infection in the obstetric population with the potential to impact best vaccine administration practices.