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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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Maternal psychological distress and children’s internalizing/externalizing problems during the COVID-19 pandemic: the moderating role played by hypermentalization

Federica Bianco; Annalisa Levante; Serena Petrocchi (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
In order to explore the psychological impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the caregiver–child relationship, this study investigated the interplay among COVID-19 exposure and children’s internalizing/externalizing problems during the Italian lockdown, hypothesizing a mediation effect played by maternal distress. Additionally, it included maternal reflective functioning (i.e., hypermentalization) as a moderator factor among this interplay. A total of 305 Italian mothers of children aged 6–13 years (M = 10.3; SD = 2.4) filled in an online survey. Findings revealed an indirect effect of maternal COVID-19 exposure on children’s anxious/depressed (k2 = 0.46) and attention problems (k2 = 0.32) via maternal distress.
A telehealth intervention for ensuring continuity of care of pediatric obesity during the CoVid-19 lockdown in Italy

Pierluigi Pecoraro; Francesca Gallè; Espedita Muscariello (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Restriction measures adopted during the Coronavirus Disease-19 pandemic favored unhealthy behaviors. Tele-health offered the opportunity to pursue alternative ways of chronic diseases management. This retrospective study sought to determine the effects of a telehealth counselling intervention during the lockdown to children and adolescents with obesity previously engaged in a family-based secondary care program in an outpatient clinic of South Italy.
Retraditionalisation? Work patterns of families with children during the pandemic in Italy

Elisa Brini; Mariya Lenko; Stefani Scherer

Published: October 2021   Journal: Demographic Research

 During the COVID-19 pandemic, employment declined and real incomes fell worldwide. The burden of childcare on families increased and, in many countries, women’s employment fell more than men’s. From a couple-level perspective, changing employment patterns could lead to a retraditionalisation of gender roles between partners, especially for families with dependent children. This study focused on couples with children under 16 and used quarterly large-scale micro data (the Italian Labour Force Survey) to examine, through descriptive statistics and multinomial logistic regressions, the changes and composition of couples’ work patterns between 2019 and 2020.

COVID-19 and schools: what is the risk of contagion? Results of a rapid-antigen-test-based screening campaign in Florence, Italy

Guglielmo Bonaccorsi; Sonia Paoli; Massimiliano Alberto Biamonte (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: International Journal of Infectious Diseases

In the coronavirus disease 2019 era, debate around the risk of contagion in school is intense in Italy. The Department of Welfare and Health of Florence promoted a screening campaign with rapid antigen tests for all students and school personnel. The aim of this study was to assess the circulation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the school setting by means of mass screening in every primary and middle school in Florence. All students and school personnel at primary and middle schools in Florence were asked to take part. The campaign started on 16 November 2020 and was completed on 12 February 2021. If a subject had a positive result on rapid antigen testing, a molecular test was performed to confirm the result.

Italian adolescents’ adjustment before and during the coronavirus disease 2019: A comparison between mothers’ and adolescents’ perception

Alessandra Babore; Mara Morelli; Carmen Trumello

Published: September 2021   Journal: British Journal of Clinical Psychology
The current cross-sectional study aimed to analyse adolescents’ adjustment during and before the lockdown caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, by evaluating levels of emotional problems and hyperactivity as referred by adolescents themselves. A further purpose was to compare adolescents’ and mothers’ perception about adolescents’ adjustment. Participants comprised 206 adolescents (50.5% females; mean age = 12.2; SD = 3.3) and their mothers (mean age = 43.9; SD = 5.9).
Parental distress and perception of children’s executive functioning after the first COVID-19 lockdown in Italy

Concetta Polizzi; Sofia Burgio; Gioacchino Lavanco (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Journal of Clinical Medicine
The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and the consequential first italian lockdown to minimize viral transmission, have resulted in many significant changes in the every-day lives of families, with an increased risk of parental burnout. This study explores the impact of the first COVID-19 lockdown in Italy on parental distress and parental perceptions of children’s executive functions (EFs). Participants were 308 Italian parents with children between 4 and 17 years of age; they were recruited through online advertisements on websites and social media, and they were given an online survey. The measures were: the balance between risks and resources (BR2) and the executive functioning self-report (EF).
The COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal study on the emotional-behavioral sequelae for children and adolescents with neuropsychiatric disorders and their families

Alessia Raffagnato; Sara Iannattone; Benedetta Tascini (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
This study aimed to investigate the immediate and short-term impact of the pandemic on the psychological well-being of Italian children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders and their families. Overall, 56 patients aged 6–18 (M = 13.4 years, SD = 2.77) and their parents were evaluated during the COVID-19 lockdown (T0) and after 4 months (T1). An ad hoc data sheet, Youth Self-Report 11–18 (YSR), Child Behavior Checklist 6–18 (CBCL), and Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21) were administered. Patients, mainly suffering from internalizing disorders, overall demonstrated a good adaptation to the pandemic context. Moreover, patients with behavioral disorders showed a greater psychological discomfort at both T0 and T1 compared to patients with internalizing disorders.
Reasons for SARS-CoV-2 infection in children and their role in the transmission of infection according to age: a case-control study

Mauro Calvani; Giulia Cantiello; Maria Cavani (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Italian Journal of Pediatrics

The locations where children get exposed to SARS-CoV-2 infection and their contribution in spreading the infection are still not fully understood. Aim of the article is to verify the most frequent reasons for SARS-CoV-2 infection in children and their role in the secondary transmission of the infection. A case-control study was performed in all SARS-CoV-2 positive children (n = 81) and an equal number of age- and sex- matched controls who were referred to the S. Camillo-Forlanini Pediatric Walk-in Center of Rome. The results of all SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal swabs performed in children aged < 18 years from October 16 to December 19, 2020 were analyzed.

The exacerbation of a crisis: the impact of COVID-19 on people on the move at the French-Italian border

Diletta Mastria; Jean Daniel Patierno

Published: September 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in Europe, the situation for displaced people in the Italian border town of Ventimiglia deteriorated further. Vulnerable individuals and groups would face additional dangers and protection risks in this context, while unaccompanied children continued to be pushed back at alarming rates while being treated as adults, a tactical practice aimed at depriving them of their right to seek asylum in France. This report is based on a combination of desk and field research, and sheds a light on the grave impacts of COVID-19 on an already desperate situation at the French-Italian border. It underlines the acute impact of the pandemic on all aspects of life for people on the move, including access to adequate shelter, medical care, protection, and other rights violations such as racial profiling, pushbacks and detention.

COVID-19 and home confinement: a study on fathers, father-child relationships, and child adjustment

Carmen Trumello; Sonia M. Bramanti; Lucia Lombardi (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Child
The purpose of this study was to explore fathers' adjustment and father–child relationships during the first peak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak (April 2020). More particularly, the study analysed paternal perceptions of changes concerning familial economic conditions and children's psychological difficulties (viz., emotional problems and hyperactivity) during the lockdown produced by the current pandemic. Furthermore, it investigated the following correlates of fathers' parenting stress: socio-demographic condition, paternal individual stress, anxiety, depression and changes in the father–child relationship during the outbreak.
Perceived changes in family life during COVID-19: the role of family size

Elena Canzi; Francesca V. Danioni; Miriam Parise (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Family Relations

The current study was aimed at exploring Italian parents' perceived negative and positive changes in family life during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking into account the role of the stage of the family life and family size. During the emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of families drastically changed their daily life and routines. Little evidence exists on how family characteristics, such as family size or presence of children, are related to families' experience of family change. A large sample of 1,407 Italian parents (70.1% mothers) filled in an anonymous online survey during the third week of the lockdown period (between March 30 and April 7, 2020).

Does school reopening affect SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence among school-age children in Milan?

Lucia Barcellini; Federica Forlanini; Arianna Sangiorgio (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Plos One
The benefits of schools’ closure, used as a containment strategy by many European countries, must be carefully considered against the adverse effects of child wellbeing. This study assessed SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence, which better estimates the real extent of the infection unraveling asymptomatic cases, among schoolchildren aged 3 to 18 in Milan, using dried blood spot, a safe and extremely viable methods for children, and then compared it between September 2020 and January 2021. Secondly, it evaluated the seroconversion rate and compared it between students attending schools in presence and those switched to distance-learning, using a logistic regression model, both as univariate and multivariate, adjusting for age and biological-sex.
Effects of maternal psychological distress and perception of COVID-19 on prenatal attachment in a large sample of Italian pregnant women

Francesco Craig; Maria Cecilia Gioia; Vito Muggeo (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Journal of Affective Disorders

Evidence concerning the impact of COVID-19-related stress exposure on prenatal attachment in pregnant women is unknown. This study  sought to assess the effect of psychological distress and risk perception of COVID-19 on prenatal attachment in a Italian sample of pregnant women. 1179 pregnant women completed an anonymous online survey and self-report questionnaires measuring socio-demographic and obstetric characteristics, psychological distress (STAI Form Y-1-2 and BDI-II), prenatal attachment (PAI) and risk perception of COVID-19. Data were collected from March 2020 to April 2020 referring to the national lockdown period.

Becoming a mother during the COVID-19 national lockdown in Italy: Issues linked to the wellbeing of pregnant women

Martina Smorti; Lucia Ponti; Chiara Ionio (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: International Journal of Psychology
The COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown represent risk factors for the mental health of pregnant women. This study explored the impact of COVID-19 restriction policies on psychological health, analysing the predictive role of social support on maternal wellbeing. A total of 212 pregnant women recruited from two public hospitals in Italy were divided into two groups: (a) a pre-COVID-19 group composed of 141 expectant women (mean age = 34.6; SD = 4.3) at their third trimester before the national lockdown period; (b) a COVID-19 group composed of 71 pregnant women (mean age = 33.3; SD = 4.5) at their third trimester during the COVID-19 national lockdown.
COVID-19 impact on parental emotion socialization and youth socioemotional adjustment in Italy

Laura Di Giunta; Carolina Lunetti; Irene Fiasconaro (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Journal of Research on Adolescence
This study examines the change and associations in parental emotion socialization strategies in response to children’s negative emotions and youths’ adjustment, comparing before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Italy and since the pandemic began. Participants were convenient cross-sectional/normative (Study 1) and clinical/longitudinal (Study 2) samples of Italian parents whose children were in middle childhood and adolescence. In Study 1, self-reported socialization strategies, youths’ maladjustment, and emotion dysregulation increased since the pandemic began. Whereas, in Study 2, socialization strategies and youths’ maladjustment decreased since the pandemic started. In both studies, unsupportive parental emotion socialization predicted youths’ maladjustment and emotion dysregulation, while supportive parental emotion socialization predicted adaptive emotion regulation. This study advances knowledge about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the family context.
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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.


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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.