Exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with delayed development at age 5 years, according to a study published online July 10 in JAMA Pediatrics.
Koryu Sato, M.P.H., from Kyoto University in Japan, and colleagues examined the association between COVID-19 and early childhood development in a cohort study conducted between 2017 and 2019 in accredited nursery centers in a Japanese municipality. Participants (447 children aged 1 year at baseline and 440 children aged 3 years at baseline) were followed up for two years.
The researchers found that during follow-up, compared with those not exposed to the pandemic, the cohorts that were exposed were 4.39 months behind in development at age 5 years. This negative association was not seen for development at age 3 years. Regardless of age, greater variations in development were seen during versus before the pandemic. There was a positive association noted for quality of care at nursery centers with development at age 3 years during the pandemic; parental depression amplified the association between the pandemic and delayed development at age 5 years.
“It is important to identify children who have been detrimentally affected by the pandemic and provide them with support for learning, socialization, physical and mental health, and family support,” the authors write.
Koryu Sato et al, Association Between the COVID-19 Pandemic and Early Childhood Development, JAMA Pediatrics (2023). DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2023.2096
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