A new study showed that babies who were born during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic had slightly lower scores on a screening of their developmental skills, including motor and social skills, compared to children born before the health crisis.
The review suggested that the lag in developmental skills was apparent whether or not the mothers of the babies were infected with the coronavirus during pregnancy. The study that was released on Tuesday by JAMA Pediatrics, included 255 babies who were born in March to December 2020 in New York City, which is considered the epicenter of the virus in the early stages of the health crisis.
Babies' Developmental Lag
Researchers screened infants for communication, motor, and social skills at six months of age with the use of a standard questionnaire. They monitored the children's ability to roll from their back to their stomach, how often they babble, and other various milestones.
In a majority of the areas covered by the study, babies who were born during the coronavirus pandemic had lower scores compared to those born prior to the health crisis. The same situation was observed whether the children were born to mothers who were infected with the coronavirus infection during their pregnancies and those who were not, NBC News reported.
Assistant professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and lead investigator of the recent study, Dani Dumitriu, said that researchers were expecting a difference between neurodevelopmental growth of children born from mothers who were infected with the coronavirus and those who were healthy.
He said that he and his team were surprised to find no significant evidence that suggested exposure to the infection while the mother is pregnant with a child affected the infant's neurodevelopmental growth. However, they said that those born during the pandemic scored lower in the conducted tests.
Effects of the Pandemic on Children
Dumitriu suggested that the results of the study showed the amount of stress that mothers experienced during the coronavirus pandemic played a role in the growth of their children. "These were not large differences, meaning we did not see a higher rate of actual developmental delays in our sample of a few hundred babies, just small shifts in average scores between the groups," he said, Scitech Daily reported.
The situation comes as more and more babies are being admitted into hospitals for the coronavirus which has resulted in four major hospitals issuing a joint plea for pregnant people to get vaccinated against the infection.
The Hospital for Sick Children, CHEO (formerly the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, in Ottawa, McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton, and Kingston Health Sciences Centre, released a joint statement on Wednesday urging mothers who are pregnant to be vaccinated against the coronavirus infection.
A pediatric infectious disease specialist at CHEO, Dr. Anne Pham-Huy, said that they were now seeing the highest numbers of children being admitted into hospitals for the coronavirus since the beginning of the health crisis. With the high number of community transmission, many kids will end up in the hospital, the medical professional said, The Star reported