Lockdowns and mask mandates stunted babies’ development, study finds.
Young people born during the pandemic were less likely to have spoken their first words before their first birthday than babies born before Covid.
They were also less likely to be able to say goodbye or point to objects, Irish researchers found.
The team says face masks limit children’s ability to read facial expressions or see people’s mouths move – a crucial part of learning to speak.
Bans on visiting grandparents and relatives have also been blamed for robbing them of vital socializing time.
This is just the latest piece of evidence to highlight the devastating toll of pandemic restrictions on the health of America’s youth.
The graph above shows the likelihood of a particular behavior in pandemic babies compared to non-pandemic babies on their first birthday. Pinch refers to the joint use of thumb and index finger. Pandemic babies were more likely to crawl, but less likely to talk, point or say goodbye
More than 3.6 million babies were born in America in the first year of the Covid pandemic alone.
Evidence has already emerged suggesting they suffered from weakened immune systems due to isolation, which put them at increased risk of bad colds.
And today’s study is the latest to add to a growing body of evidence that the measures are triggering developmental delays for the youngest in society.
Record number of toddlers hospitalized with a cold ‘due to closures’
More children and young people are hospitalized with colds and respiratory problems than ever after the Covid pandemic, according to official data.
Experts have repeatedly warned that lockdowns and measures used to contain Covid like face masks also suppress the spread of germs that are crucial for building strong immune systems in children.
A retrospective report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today showed that levels of the common cold virus reached their highest level ever among people under the age of 18 in August 2021.
The CDC is sampling random pediatric hospitals across the United States and making nationwide estimates to gauge the prevalence of viruses.
There were almost 700 children hospitalized with respiratory virus across the seven wards studied in August last year, just over half of whom had tested positive for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – which is normally benign.
These were the highest levels on record in the summer, after a year and a half of brutal pandemic restrictions forced many people to stay indoors.
In the paper, led by Ireland’s Royal College of Surgeons, researchers looked at 309 babies born between March and May 2020.
Ireland has been stuck for five months this year and has spent many more under tight restrictions.
Parents were interviewed at approximately 10 developmental milestones after their child reached one year of age.
These included: saying a specific word, pointing, greeting, being able to stand, walk sideways, crawl and stack bricks.
The results were compared to 2,000 babies born between 2008 and 2011.
Blocked babies were 14% less likely to have said a specific word, according to the results.
They were also nine percent less likely to have started pointing and six percent less likely to say goodbye.
On the other hand, however, they were also much more likely to crawl – at 7%.
Writing in the statement, the College said: “Lockdown measures may have reduced the repertoire of language heard and the sight of unmasked faces speaking at [infants].
“It may also have reduced the opportunities to meet new items of interest, which might prompt finger pointing, and the frequency of social contact to allow them to learn to say goodbye.
‘[But] they were even more likely to crawl … which could be because they were more likely to have spent more time at home on the ground rather than outside the home in cars and strollers.
The study relied on parental recall in some cases beyond a month after the child’s first birthday, which may affect the results.
It was also observational, meaning it could not confirm a specific link between lockdowns and delayed development.
Dr. Lemmietta McNeilly, chief of staff of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association who was not involved in the research, told DailyMail.com that babies may not have a first word because lockdowns meant they had ‘less need to communicate’.
She added: “The need to track children who are in more naturalistic environments is necessary before determining whether the [lockdown] children will have lasting delays.
“It’s also important to note that the parents were living in a very stressful environment as they dealt with the pandemic.”
The pandemic babies came from the CORAL study, or Impact of CoronaVirus Pandemic on Allergic and Autoimmune Dysregulation in Infants Born During Lockdown.
Those from before the pandemic came from the BASELINE study, or Babies after SCOPE, article.
The study was published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
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