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Babies Born in Pandemic have Slight Developmental Lag

Researchers found that Babies Born during the pandemic’s first year scored lower on a developmental screening test of social and motor skills at six months regardless of whether their mothers had COVID during pregnancy compared to Babies Born just before the pandemic.

The study, which included 255 Babies Born at a New York-Presbyterian’s Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Allen Hospital between March and December 2020, was published in JAMA Pediatrics. Dani Dumitriu, MD, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and lead investigator of the study said that Infants born to mothers who have viral infections during pregnancy have a higher risk of neurodevelopmental deficits.They also thought that they would find some changes in the neurodevelopment of babies whose mothers had COVID during pregnancy.

Babies Born in Pandemic have Slight Developmental LagThey were surprised to find absolutely no signal suggesting that exposure to COVID while in utero was linked to neurodevelopmental deficits.Instead, 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.

These were not significant 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. These small shifts warrant careful attention because, at the population level, they can have a significant public health impact. We know this from other pandemics and natural disasters.

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