Covid -19 Affected Children’s Development Moderately: Study

Covid -19 Affected Children’s Development Moderately: Study

Childrens Development

JAMA Pediatrics published a report on 22nd April regarding the study on the effect of the pandemic period on the development of children up to the age of 5. The infrastructure of the study was granted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and funded by the Johns Hopkins Population Center. The data were derived from a screening platform which is web-based, known as Comprehensive Health and Decision Information System (CHADIS). This is a surveys about children’s development where the caregivers have to complete Ages and Stages Questionnaire-3 (ASQ-3). Almost 5,000 pediatrics from 48 U.S. states use the survey.

The questionnaire measures the developmental milestones of children in five skill domains: communication, problem-solving, fine motor, gross motor, and personal-social. For the study, a sample of 50, 205 children, ages up to 5 years, was drawn from a population of more than half a million children. Comparison was done between scores of children from 2018 to 2022 (before and during the pandemic).

COVID-19’s Influence on Child Developmental Skills

The findings showed about 3% score decrease in communication and about 2% score in personal-social and problem-solving skill domains. Though there are no changes in skill domains of fine or gross motor. Researchers were more concerned regarding infants as they have spent most of the time in their homes but the result was assuring.

“We found, overall, that while there are some changes, the sky is not falling, and that is a really important and reassuring finding,” says Sara Johnson, corresponding author of the study and Blanket Fort Foundation professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Numerous studies suggested how the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions disrupted the lives of many people along with life of young children. As childcare centers, schools, and offices were closed many people experienced increased anxiety, stress, and social isolation due to lack of social connection. Few research has also shown how the pandemic influenced child health-related quality of life, increased risk of obesity, decreased sleep with mental health concerns. So the recent study was vital to assess if the pandemic period also damaged children’s developmental skills.

However, the study has a few drawbacks:

  1. The study was US based and the findings remained unclear, considering the other studies have done outside the United States, or in small samples.
  2. The researchers say the findings are reassuring still the implications for children’s long-term development remain unclear.

“It is important for us to continue to keep an eye on kids of all ages in terms of development, so we can understand whether these changes have longer-term implications for children or if new challenges emerge as children age,” says Johnson. Johnson and her team believe their study findings will be helpful in planning aid for future public health crises.

  • Neuroscience News. (2024, April 22). COVID-19 Didn’t Delay Development As Much As Believed.
  • Johnson, S. B., Kuehn, M., Lambert, J. H., Spin, J. P., Klein, L. M., Howard, B. J., Sturner, R. A., & Perrin, E. M. (2024). Developmental milestone attainment in US children before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA Pediatrics.

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