Babies that were born in the first year of the pandemic are suffering stunted development, according to a new study.
These babies are developing social and motor skills at a slower rate than children born before the pandemic and, perhaps most worryingly of all, this effect appears to be independent of whether or not the mothers had COVID-19 during pregnancy.
The study is yet further evidence of the devastating toll the pandemic is inflicting on children, who are already experiencing record levels of obesity and unhappiness.
The findings come from a review of 255 babies born in the New York area between March and December 2020.
“The developmental trajectory of an infant begins before birth,” says says lead investigator Dr. Dani Dumitriu in a university release, from Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Dumitriu is also a pediatrician atthe Well Baby Nursery at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.
“With potentially millions of infants who may have been exposed to COVID in utero, and even more mothers just living through the stress of the pandemic, there is a critical need to understand the neurodevelopmental effects of the pandemic on future generations.”
The research team analyzed questionnaires given to parents to evaluate aspects of their child’s development. Around half of the mothers in the study reported having COVID at some point during their pregnancies, with most being either asymptomatic or only experiencing mild symptoms.
Although the results show no differences in the scores between infants whose mothers had COVID and those whose mothers did not, the average scores in social and gross and fine motor skills among both classes of pandemic-era babies were lower than 62 pre-pandemic infants born at the same hospitals.