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‘Reduced The Repertoire of Language’: Babies Born During COVID Faced Detrimental Development Issues

As time goes on, we see more things awry from the wrong-headed lockdowns and other measures to head off COVID. Some babies born in the first three months of lockdown exhibit developmental problems, an Irish study said, as reported by The Daily Mail. They were slow to begin speaking and were unable to wave “bye-bye” or point to objects on schedule, according to an analysis of 309 infants by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. The ability to decipher facial expressions and see mouths move are foundational to learning to speak, a Royal College paper said. Masking due to fear of COVID hampered the ability of the babies to gain needed communication skills. Socialization also was limited, since grandparents and other family members were prohibited from being with the children. But there’s no cause for alarm, according to Dr. Susan Byrne, senior lecturer in pediatrics and child health at the Royal College, said HealthDay and U.S. News and World Report. “Babies are very resilient and, obviously, the pandemic measures are all reduced now so there’s loads of opportunities for people to get out with their little people and for them to see the world,” Byrne said. Babies’ brains have a plasticity which should allow them to recover from lockdown isolation, according to Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, associate professor of pediatrics and human development and family studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Byrne and Navsaria said the lockdown limited babies’ abilities to be out of the house and interact with people, HealthDay said. Meanwhile, isolation is believed to have weakened the lockdown children’s immune systems, resulting in higher risks of catching bad colds; face masks also contributed to weakened immune systems, the Daily Mail reported. Official data indicate higher numbers of children and young people entering hospitals due to colds and respiratory issues. Common cold levels were the highest ever in August of 2021 among those under 18 years of age, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. Random CDC sampling of pediatric hospitals at the time showed almost 700 children down with a respiratory virus, half of them with respiratory syncytial virus. RSV normally is benign. The Irish study examined 309 babies born between March and May of 2020. Lockdowns in Ireland took place for five months, accompanied by many other restrictions occurring for substantial lengths of time. As the babies reached one year of age, parents were surveyed on 10 items, including children’s abilities to say one word, point with their finger, wave bye-bye, stand by themselves, step sideways, crawl and stack bricks. Accomplishments of the 309 children were compared with those of 2,000 children born from 2008 to 2011. While there were no differences in some categories of analysis, the year-old lockdown children were 14 percent less likely to be able to speak one definite word. They were 9 percent less likely to point and 6 percent less likely to wave bye-bye. However, the lockdown babies were 7 percent more likely to be crawling. “Lockdown measures may have reduced the repertoire of language heard and the sight of unmasked faces speaking to [infants],” the college said upon releasing the study. “It may also have curtailed opportunities to encounter new items of interest, which might prompt pointing, and the frequency of social contacts to enable them to learn to wave bye-bye. ‘[But] they were still more likely to be crawling… which might be because they were more likely to have spent more time at home on the ground rather than out of the home in cars and strollers.” The development of the babies may have been affected by parents’ depression during the lockdown, Navsaria said. Hopefully, there is a brain plasticity, as described by Navsaria, allowing babies born during COVID to eventually be able to function at normal levels in every respect. As time goes on, it’s likely we’ll see more unintended consequences stemming from the lockdowns, masks and forced vaccinations. A major question is the lag in academic accomplishment for older children caused by closed schools, remote learning and artificial social isolation. Sadly, there may be educational and other damages that will plague these individuals for decades. And I’m always brought up short when I hear that children are “resilient.” That was a common term used in the 1970s to paper over the reactions of children facing their parents’ divorce. A generation of children now grown to middle age might challenge that term. And hopefully, babies and children affected by the draconian reactions to COVID will be able to overcome their challenges. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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