Close babies less able to talk than pre-Covid children

Babies born during the first months of the COVID lockdown in Ireland are less capable of speech and other forms of communication compared to children born before the pandemic.

Research conducted by scientists at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has found that newborn children born in the early months of the COVID pandemic experienced a delay in their social development, with the lockdown cited as a possible cause of the phenomenon.

Experts around the world have repeatedly sounded the alarm about the impact pandemic lockdowns have had on children’s development, with evidence showing youngsters in Germany, the UK and the US are all affected by social isolation during of the pandemic.

According to new data published by Irish researchers on Wednesday, this trend appears to extend to newborns living in the island nation, with a study of 350 babies in Ireland finding they were less able to talk, point and move early on. Goodbye”. -goodbye’ from their pre-COVID predecessors.

With post-lockdown babies also showing greater ability to crawl compared to their historical counterparts, Professor Jonathan Hourihane – one of the scientists at the heart of the research – hypothesizes that the change in development may be caused by children spending more time at home and on the ground rather than in the outside world.

“Our research showed that [lockdown] babies were more likely to be crawling at 12 months of age than their [baseline] counterparts, which may be because they were more likely to spend more time at home and on the ground, with siblings home from school and parents who worked from home or were isolated, than outside the home in cars and buggies.” said the academic. .

“However, lockdown measures may have affected the range of language heard and seen by the unmasked persons speaking to them, while limiting opportunities to encounter new items of interest that could trigger pointing and the frequency of social contact to let them learn to wave,” he continued.

The researchers also stressed that more research needs to be done to determine the cause and effect of delayed growth, with one scientist in particular expressing hope that babies affected by the pandemic will make up lost ground once the rules are finally in place. lockdown measures. bed.

While the Irish republic – which is currently ruled by a coalition of pro-globalisation parties – has historically experienced in places some of the most draconian lockdowns in western Europe, the experience of young Irish children in terms of delayed development during periods of lockdown seems not to be unique.

Alarms have also been raised by experts in Britain, the United States and Germany about the impact the COVID pandemic has had on children, with a study published in June showing that some children entering Primary School in the UK they could not say his own name.

A significant number of others were described as having not been toilet trained, while some had also never drunk from a container other than a bottle.

Children around the world have also seemingly seen their literacy levels as well as their maths skills decline greatly during the pandemic, with many now severely lagging behind their pre-COVID counterparts.

UNICEF Director of Education Robert Jenkins has since said that simply reopening schools in the wake of the pandemic is no longer enough and that institutions must work to “rebuild children’s mental and physical health, social development and nutrition » in the aftermath. of the lockdown.

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