Sunday, January 16

Challenges that can affect babies during the pandemic

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for many people. According to a report published in JAMA Pediatrics, the damage to newborns born during the epidemic could last a lifetime. Challenges that can affect babies during the pandemic. 

The brain develops most rapidly throughout the first three years of life. It's not just the health of the babies that matters, but also how they interact with their carers. Babies must be held, stroked, spoken to, smiled at, and played with. Neural connections are formed in the brain as they receive and respond to those interactions in a "serve and return" manner. When babies don't experience enough of these interactions, their brains don't develop as well as they should, and they can even be physically smaller.

It can be difficult to find the time, let alone the energy or interest, to chat to and play with your infant if you are a stressed or depressed parent or caregiver. Multiple studies have shown that maternal depression, poverty, and other family stressors can permanently alter a child's development.

What method was used to do the research?

As part of a long-term study about mothers and babies, Columbia University researchers looked at three groups of 6-month-old babies in this study. They looked at how the babies grew and changed. Two of the groups were born during the COVID-19 pandemic, with one group's mothers having COVID-19 and the other's not. A historical cohort made up the third group (a group of babies who were born before the pandemic).

The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3) was used by the mothers in the study to track their babies' growth. The researchers found no differences in development between the two groups of newborns born during the pandemic, implying that prenatal COVID-19 exposure has no effect on development, which is fantastic news. However, newborns born during the epidemic had an inferior gross motor, fine motor, and social-emotional development than those born before it. Rolling from back to tummy (gross motor), reaching for or clutching a toy with both hands (fine motor), and acting differently toward strangers than toward parents or known people are examples of developmental activities for infants this age (social-emotional development).

What does it say about the development of infants during the pandemic?

It's only one study, and additional research is needed to fully comprehend the findings, but given what we know about newborn development, the findings are not surprising. For many families, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a great deal of stress – emotional, financial, and otherwise. It has also had a significant effect on the number and type of interactions we have with others. Because of masking, babies are interacting with fewer individuals (and seeing fewer faces) than they were before the pandemic.

Even though further research is needed, this study should act as a wake-up call for society. If we do not act now, the offspring of this pandemic may bear some scars for the rest of their lives. We've seen the emotional and educational consequences on children, but we must also consider the developmental effects on babies. All of these things have the potential to permanently alter their life.

Happy baby

What can we do to overcome these obstacles?

We need to figure out how to financially and emotionally help families with young children. We must be energetic and creative, and we must pursue every possible avenue. While our government should play a part, so should communities and individuals.

We must refer families to and fund early intervention programs that promote the development of children from birth to three years of age. Many of these programs have switched to virtual visits as a result of the pandemic, which may make them less effective. As a result, we'll have to think outside the box here as well. We can't just sit around and wait for the pandemic to end.

Parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers should be aware of the studies and seek assistance if necessary. It's easy for parents to believe that their children are too young and naive to be harmed by the pandemic. They are, nevertheless, impacted in ways that may be long-term. Discuss what you can do to aid yourself, your family, and your baby's future with your doctor.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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