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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

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

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Global estimates of the implications of COVID-19-related preprimary school closures for children’s instructional access, development, learning, and economic wellbeing
Published: August 2021   Journal: Child Development
Observational data collected prior to the pandemic (between 2004 and 2019) were used to simulate the potential consequences of early childhood care and education (ECCE) service closures on the estimated 167 million preprimary-age children in 196 countries who lost ECCE access between March 2020 and February 2021. COVID-19-related ECCE disruptions were estimated to result in 19.01 billion person-days of ECCE instruction lost, 10.75 million additional children falling “off track” in their early development, 14.18 million grades of learning lost by adolescence, and a present discounted value of USD 308.02 billion of earnings lost in adulthood. Further burdens associated with ongoing closures were also forecasted. Projected developmental and learning losses were concentrated in low- and lower middle-income countries, likely exacerbating long-standing global inequities.
Preliminary evaluation of a multicomponent youth development program for siblings separated by foster care: pandemic related impacts to service delivery and youth well-being

AUTHOR(S)
Jeffrey Waid; Cynthia Dantas

Published: August 2021   Journal: Journal of Public Child Welfare
A preliminary evaluation of a multicomponent youth development program for siblings in foster care was conducted prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pretest posttest measures of youth well-being were collected from sixteen youth, caregivers, and caseworkers over a six-month period. Caregivers reported increased internalizing and externalizing behaviors, sibling relationship difficulties, prosocial behavior, and resilience during the study period. Youth reported reduced school engagement, increased resilience, and prosocial behavior. In-person sibling programming was associated with increased prosocial behavior. Virtual sibling programming was associated with lower hyperactivity, increased prosocial behavior, and increased emotional problems. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
Egyptian and Roma adolescents’ perspectives on their developmental assets in Albania during the COVID-19 pandemic

AUTHOR(S)
Diana Miconi; Eglantina Dervishi; Nora Wiium (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Journal of Research on Adolescence
This mixed-method study explores the accessibility of developmental assets among Egyptian and Roma minority youth in Albania during the COVID-19 pandemic. Six focus groups were conducted in August 2020 with Egyptian (n = 16) and Roma (n = 15) adolescents (14–20 years, Mage = 16.71; SDage = 2.00; 14 girls and 17 boys). In addition, adolescents rated how much they experienced each developmental asset. Descriptive and thematic analyses highlighted: (1) low developmental assets and barriers to accessing resources, (2) mental health concerns and coping strategies, (3) the role of proximal contexts of life, and (4) experiences within the society in terms of discrimination, integration, and contribution to society. Inter-sectoral community-based interventions are urgently needed to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on minority youth.
Depressed and socioeconomically disadvantaged mothers’ progression into a randomized controlled mobile mental health and parenting intervention: a descriptive examination prior to and during COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Kathleen M. Baggett; Betsy Davis; Elizabeth A. Mosley (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Frontiers in Psychology
Infants of low-income and depressed mothers are at high risk for poor developmental outcomes. Early parenting mediates infant experiences from birth, and early intervention can support sensitive and responsive parent practices that optimize infant outcomes via promoting developmental competencies. However, low-income and depressed mothers experience substantial challenges to participating in early intervention. They also have extremely limited access to interventions targeting depression. Interventions targeting maternal depression and parent practices can improve maternal and infant outcomes. Mobile internet-based interventions overcome numerous barriers that low-resource mothers face in accessing home-based interventions. Pandemic-related stressors likely reduce family resources and exacerbate distress of already heavily-burdened mother-infant dyads. During crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, evidence-based remote coaching interventions are paramount. This article reports on a mobile intervention for improving maternal mood and increasing parent practices that promote infant development. An ongoing randomized controlled trial study provided a unique opportunity to monitor progression from referral to intervention initiation between two groups of depressed mothers: those prior to the pandemic and during the pandemic. The study also examines mother and infant characteristics at baseline. The sample consisted primarily of Black mothers experiencing extreme poverty who self-referred to the study in a large southern city, which is one of the most income disparate in the United States.
Differences in psychological and behavioral changes between children following school closure due to COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Kiwamu Nakachi; Kentaro Kawabe; Rie Hosokawa (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Psychiatry Journal
School closure due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pushed children across ages and nationalities into a state of mental health crisis. In Japan, children between the ages of 6 and 18 were ordered to stay at home and observe social distancing for several months. This study is aimed at investigating the effects of quarantine due to COVID-19 on children belonging to different developmental stages in life. Data were collected from mothers of typically developing children aged between 6 and 18 years. The differences in psychological and behavioral changes following school closure during the COVID-19 pandemic were explored.
The exacerbated prevalence of acute malnutrition and growth retardation in Roma children living in camps

AUTHOR(S)
Rosaria Giampaolo; Rosaria Marotta; Francesco Saverio Biagiarelli (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Italian Journal of Pediatrics

Child malnutrition is still a concern in marginalized groups of populations, such as immigrants living in very low socio-economic conditions. Roma children are within the most hard-to-reach populations, susceptible to undernutrition and growth retardation. In the city of Rome (Italy), the Hospital “Bambino Gesù”, in collaboration with the Catholic Association Community of Saint’Egidio, is dedicating free services for the health and nutritional needs of vulnerable people. A retrospective analysis was conducted on immigrant children visited at different ages (0–11 years old). Records including nutritional and growth assessment were collected from 2016 up to May 2020. Malnutrition was classified following the WHO 2006 standards. Data for Roma children living in extra-urban camps and non-Roma immigrant children living in urban areas were analyzed, odds ratios and univariate binary regressions were performed to investigate the risk of malnutrition within the two groups.

COVID-19 and children’s well-being: a rapid research agenda

AUTHOR(S)
Rebecca N. Dudovitz; Shirley Russ; Mary Berghaus (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Maternal and Child Health Journal

Understanding the full impact of COVID-19 on U.S. children, families, and communities is critical to (a) document the scope of the problem, (b) identify solutions to mitigate harm, and (c) build more resilient response systems. This study sought to develop a research agenda to understand the short- and long-term mechanisms and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s healthy development, with the goal of devising and ultimately testing interventions to respond to urgent needs and prepare for future pandemics. The Life Course Intervention Research Network facilitated a series of virtual meetings that included members of 10 Maternal and Child Health (MCH) research programs, their research and implementation partners, as well as family and community representatives, to develop an MCH COVID-19 Research Agenda. Stakeholders from academia, clinical practice, nonprofit organizations, and family advocates participated in four meetings, with 30–35 participants at each meeting.

Exploring factors that influence children’s growth and development during a pandemic

AUTHOR(S)
Kimiya Amjadi

Published: August 2021   Journal: Global Pediatric Health
The potential long-term impacts of natural or man-made disasters on children and adolescents have been the subject of numerous scientific research studies over the past decades. Since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, it has become even more important to continue these investigations in order to address the special needs of our youth. While the virus itself appears to cause less pathology in them compared to adults, the effects go beyond the disease itself. The pandemic has caused extremely high levels of stress for both the children and their families. As a result, special attention has to be given to the possible long-term impacts on their growth and development. It is very important for physicians and other healthcare providers to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and monitor for physical and mental health inequities, and to be able to provide support when help is needed. Identifying culturally effective solutions and reaching out to community based organizations or partners for resources and programs with which families identify is an important part of this healing provision.
Society to cell: how child poverty gets “under the skin” to influence child development and lifelong health

AUTHOR(S)
Kim L. Schmidt; Sarah M. Merrill; Randip Gill (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Developmental Review
Almost one in three children globally live in households lacking basic necessities, and 356 million of these children were living in extreme poverty as of 2017. Disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic further increase rates of child poverty due to widespread job and income loss and economic insecurity among families. Poverty leads to unequal distribution of power and resources, which impacts the economic, material, environmental and psychosocial conditions in which children live. There is evidence that poverty is associated with adverse child health and developmental outcomes in the short term, as well as increased risk of chronic diseases and mental illnesses over the life course. Over the past decade, advances in genomic and epigenomic research have helped elucidate molecular mechanisms that could in part be responsible for these long-term effects. This study reviews evidence suggestive of biological embedding of early life poverty in three, interacting physiological systems that are potential contributors to the increased risk of disease: the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, the brain, and the immune system. It also reviews interventions that have been developed to both eliminate childhood poverty and alleviate its impact on pediatric development and health.
Impact of COVID-19 on the mental health and well-being of Latinx caregivers of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities

AUTHOR(S)
Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar; Mansha Mirza; Vanessa L. Errisuriz (et al.)

Published: July 2021   Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entire world in unprecedented ways. However, populations that have had a history of marginalization have experienced a more profound impact. One such group is Latinx families of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in the Unites States. This study used a mixed methods approach to explore the impact of the pandemic on the mental health and well-being of Latinx caregivers of children with IDD. Specifically, it (1) identified which social determinants of health are correlated with maternal caregivers perceived general health, mental health, and well-being; (2) explored the impact of the pandemic on families’ overall eating and physical activity routines; and (3) identified emergent themes from caregivers’ experiences during the pandemic.
People will continue to suffer If the virus is around: a qualitative analysis of sub-saharan African children’s experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic

AUTHOR(S)
Samantha Watters Kallander; Rebecca Gordon; Dina L. G. Borzekowski

Published: May 2021   Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Children are particularly impressionable and at risk during a global public health crisis, making it important to examine their unique perspectives. To hear and understand sub-Saharan African children’s experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic, this study conducted an exploratory qualitative analysis based on interviews with 51 children, ages 9 to 13, from Nigeria, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone. Applying the organization of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, it reveals how COVID-19 affected children’s daily lives and domestic challenges, schooling and neighborhood issues, media use (and its relationship to knowledge and fear of the disease), perceptions of the country and government response, and thoughts of religion and hope. Children’s responses differed greatly, but patterns emerged across sex, age, household size, religion, and country. This study offers guidance and recommendations for meeting the needs of children, especially in times of crisis.
Bridging the gap: exploring the impact of hospital isolation on peer relationships among children and adolescents with a malignant brain tumor

AUTHOR(S)
Jami‑Leigh Sawyer; Faye Mishna; Eric Boufet (et al.)

Published: May 2021   Journal: Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal
Children and adolescents with complex medical conditions are often uprooted from their environments and isolated in hospital while undergoing treatment. Little is known about how they perceive this isolation and its subsequent impact on their relationships with peers, both during and after isolation for treatment. This study describes the experience of hospital isolation from the perspectives of children and adolescents with a malignant brain tumor. The use and impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) as a possible bridge for contact is also explored. Following a qualitative approach utilizing interpretive phenomenological analysis, in-depth interviews were conducted with eight youth participants who had undergone treatment for medulloblastoma. Data analysis generated three main themes: (1) transforming children and relationships, (2) hospitalization in a digital world, and (3) ICTs as a promising bridge back to school.
Short-term developmental outcomes in neonates born to mothers with COVID-19 from Wuhan, China

AUTHOR(S)
Ling‑Kong Zeng; Hua‑Ping Zhu; Tian‑Tian Xiao (et al.)

Published: April 2021   Journal: World Journal of Pediatrics
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV-2) is an emerging disease. The consequences of SARS-CoV-2 exposure in infants remain unknown. Therefore, this study aims to investigate whether neonates born to mothers with COVID-19 have adverse brain development. This multicenter observational study was conducted at two designated maternal and children’s hospitals in Hubei Province, mainland China from February 1, 2020 to May 15, 2020. Neonates born to mothers with COVID-19 were enrolled. Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) fndings, and volumes of grey and white matters, and physical growth parameters were observed at 44 weeks corrected gestational age.
An analysis of digital media data to understand parents concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic to enhance effective science communication

AUTHOR(S)
Alicia Torres; Claire Kelley; Sarah Kelley (et al.)

Published: April 2021   Journal: Journal of Creative Communications
Science and health journalists have incorporated digital media as a source for their daily news production process, but little is known about the potential impacts of using digital media data to inform the news production process in the context of a global pandemic, where information is rapidly changing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, families have struggled to ensure economic stability and good health as well as their children’s learning and development. The Child Trends News Service sought to broaden access to science-based information to support families during the pandemic through television news, testing whether digital media can be used to understand parents’ concerns, misconceptions, and needs in real time. This article presents that digital media data can supplement traditional ways of conducting audience research and help tailor relevant content for families to garner an average of 90 million views per report.
Severe effects of the COVID‐19 confinement on young children’s sleep: A longitudinal study identifying risk and protective factors

AUTHOR(S)
Andjela Markovic; Christophe Mühlematter; Matthieu Beaugrand (et al.)

Published: February 2021   Journal: Journal of Sleep Research
The COVID‐19 confinement has dramatically altered daily routines, causing decreased sleep quality in adults. This necessitates careful observation, as sleep plays a crucial role in brain maturation and poor sleep increases the risk of psychopathology, particularly in the young population. Through an online survey with one baseline (April 2020) and two follow‐up assessments (May and June 2020), this study examined the effect of confinement on sleep quality in 452 babies (0–35 months) and 412 preschool children (36–71 months) from several, mainly European, countries. An acute decrease in sleep quality was found in both groups of children.
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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.