Has the Pandemic Affected Babies' Brain Development?
There's some good overall news in a large analysis that looked at whether a mother's COVID-19 infection or birth during the pandemic could affect a baby's brain development.
Researchers studied 21,419 infants who had neurodevelopmental screening during the pandemic (from January 2020 to January 2021) and compared them with babies born before the pandemic (2015-2019).
They found in an analysis of eight studies that, generally, brain development in infants ages 6-12 months old was not changed by COVID-19.
@quintin However, one area did see a significant difference when they looked at answers to the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, 3rd edition (ASQ-3): Scores were lower in communication skills.
Compared with the prepandemic babies, the pandemic group of babies was more likely to have communication impairment (odds were 1.7 times higher).
Additionally, mothers' SARS-CoV-2 infection was not associated with significant differences in any neurodevelopment sector in offspring, with one exception: Odds were 3.5 times higher for fine motor impairment in the pandemic baby group.
The babies in this study were either exposed in the womb to the SARS-CoV-2 infection or screened during the pandemic regardless of whether they were exposed to the virus.