How has the pandemic affected the development of babies? 

It’s estimated that 116 million babies have been born during the pandemic. So, how has it affected their development? According to a new study, infants born during this time have suffered in terms of their development, with increased stress being a possible factor. 

The study, which was conducted by researchers from Columbia University Irving Medical Center, found that babies born during the first year of the pandemic scored lower in development tests. 

As part of the study, the researchers investigated how the pandemic might affect babies’ development. They looked at data from over 500 who were enrolled in the COVID-19 Mother Baby Outcomes Initiative at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Information from the “Ages & Stages Questionnaire” was used to compare six-month-olds before and after the pandemic to see how it has affected their neurodevelopment. 

The study found lower neurodevelopment scores – which includes gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and social skills – in those born during the pandemic than before it. 

One reason for this could be the additional stress faced by women during the pandemic. Stress is a natural response but can cause an array of physical and emotional problems. 

Maternal stress could be a key factor as many women are experiencing anxiety and pressure, and this is known to contribute to poorer infant development – although the researchers note that it’s unlikely this will be a risk to long-term developmental outcomes. 

Additionally, having a positive COVID-19 test had no effect on the results of the study. Researcher Dr. Dani Dumitriu said, “We were surprised to find absolutely no signal suggesting that exposure to COVID while in utero was linked to neurodevelopmental deficits. 

Rather, being in the womb of a mother experiencing the pandemic was associated with slightly lower scores in areas such as motor and social skills, though not in others, such as communication or problem-solving skills. 

The results suggest that the huge amount of stress felt by pregnant mothers during these unprecedented times may have played a role.” 

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