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Exposure to COVID-19 Pandemic Linked to Delayed Development at Age 5

Parental depression amplified association between pandemic and delayed development

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 13, 2023 (HealthDay News) — 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.

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