Babies born during the COVID-19 pandemic are falling behind

Babies born during the pandemic are falling behind! Lack of interaction with others due to lockdown in their crucial developmental years has left them less likely to talk and more likely to fight with other children

  • Childcare professionals are saying that children are falling behind on key milestones like crawling for the first time and talking
  • Others warn they are more likely to get into fights with others than ever before
  • Scientists suggest the Covid pandemic is to blame, because it has led to many children being isolated away from others slowing social skill development
  • It is not clear what the long-term impacts of the pandemic will be on youngsters

Babies born during the COVID-19 pandemic are ‘falling behind’ on key milestones including talking and crawling because of a lack of social interaction, early learning staff and scientists have warned.

Dominique Spencer, who directs the Jubilee JumpStart early learning center in Washington D.C., revealed many children coming through her doors now less advanced socially than those from before the pandemic began.

Studies have also revealed children born after March 2020 are less likely to be able to vocalize than their peers were at this age, and are yet to develop social skills such as sharing and waiting their turn — leading to more fights.

Scientists including Dr Dana Suskind, a surgeon at Chicago University, suggest a lack of social contact with family and relatives due to restrictions is behind the shift.

The long-term impact of the pandemic on children is not yet clear, but experts have warned keeping children away from their peers for so long with lockdowns is bound to have harmed their development.

Children born during the Covid pandemic are behind on key developmental steps compared to their peers, it has been revealed (stock image)

Dr Dana Suskind, a surgeon at Chicago University, suggested a lack of social contact in early years could have affected youngster’s development

Speaking to USA Today, Spencer explained that normally babies begin to walk and become more physically active during the spring and summer months.

But since Covid hit, she has not seen this occurring as often. She said: ‘They’re still growing, because they always grow, but it’s at a slower pace.’

Further evidence of slower development in the youngest children were revealed by Emily Levitt, the vice president of one of America’s largest tutoring networks called Sylvan learning.

She said that recently they had been inundated with requests for lessons from parents with children less than three years old.

‘We often get this question of, “Is this child pandemic behind or are they actually behind?”,’ she explained.

‘And getting to the correct answer for each child is not always easy.’

Scientific evidence on how ‘Covid’ children’s development is behind the curve is stacking up.

A mother has told of her shock after it was revealed her 18-month-old toddler was lagging behind pre-pandemic children.

Anissa Perra-Grooms, who lives in Kansas City, Montana, had her daughter Elvira in February 2020 just as the virus was starting to spread around the world.

She kept her at home for as long as possible, saying it was the safest and most convenient option.

But at Elvira’s 18-month appointment she got a shock, after finding her daughter was lagging behind in language development.

She was able to say just a dozen words or so, whereas children at her age are normally able to say at least 50.

She said: ‘Every parent thinks their child is the smartest child ever, and I firmly believe that she’s super intelligent.’

But the finding left her ‘totally clueless’ feeling both worried and then guilty.

Elvira has now caught up with other children after being signed up to an early childhood education program, which sees her mix with others her own age.

A paper published in the prestigious research journal JAMA in January this year that looked at 225 children born in 2020 revealed babies were less likely to be crawling and smiling at themselves in a mirror within six months. It also showed they had reduced social and problem solving skills.

And a UK-based survey of teachers released last month found those teaching children in the early grades were now seeing more biting and hitting in the classroom than previously.

British-based charity Ofsted has also suggested in a report that children are struggling with basic skills such as writing and speaking in the wake of the pandemic after reviewing more than 280 educational settings.

They said some teachers even said they had seen youngsters lack confidence in group activities, and struggle to share and take turns.

Similarly, Brown University scientists, who assessed 1,000 children, found there was a 23 percent dive in ‘pandemic’ babies scores in three cognitive tests.

Suskind suggests the changes may be down to keeping children away from family and relatives for too long due to Covid.

She explained: ‘Learning doesn’t start on the first day of school, but the first day of life.’

Every social interaction the child has gives instructions to their brain on how to communicate developing social skills, she said.

But if a child’s brain is kept away from social settings, it is going to wire itself on the assumption that the environment will always be like that.

More than a million neural connections are formed every day up to the age five, she claimed, when the brain completes at least 85 percent of its development.

But to conserve energy the brain will then also begin to shave off brain cells that are rarely used — which could include some linked to socializing.

Schools across America were closed for at least a week when Covid arrived, as officials scrambled to respond to the outbreak.

But in Democrat-led states many classrooms remained shuttered into 2021, despite warnings that it could harm the youngest in society. 

There have also been warnings that orders to wear face masks in schools — which in New York City will only be dropped this month — are negatively impacting learning.

Other scientists have suggested that wearing face masks could be to blame for the slowdown in the development of social skills in children.

Dr Ashley Ruba, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Child Emotion Lab, previously told CNN: ‘There are sensitive periods in early childhood development in which language development and emotional development are really rapidly developing for the first few years of life.’

She added that developing children need to see others’ subtle verbal or facial cues to accurately discern how someone is feeling.

One mother in Kansas City, Montana, has revealed her shock after being told daughter Elvira who was born in February 2020 was behind in her language development. 

Anissa Perra-Grooms, said she kept her daughter at home for as long as possible because it seemed to be the safest and most convenient option.

But at Elvira’s 18-month appointment she got a shock, after finding her daughter was lagging behind in language development.

She was able to say just a dozen words or so, whereas children at her age are normally able to say at least 50.

She said: ‘Every parent thinks their child is the smartest child ever, and I firmly believe that she’s super intelligent.’

But the finding left her ‘totally clueless’ feeling both worried and then guilty.

Elvira has now caught up with other children after being signed up to an early childhood education program, which sees her mix with others her own age.

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