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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

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

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1 - 15 of 37
Early experience unpredictability in child development as a model for understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: a translational neuroscience perspective

Sihong Liu; Philip A. Fisher

Published: March 2022   Journal: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Extensive evidence links adverse experiences during childhood to a wide range of negative consequences in biological, socioemotional, and cognitive development. Unpredictability is a core element underlying most forms of early adversity; it has been a focus of developmental research for many years and has been receiving increasing attention recently. This article proposes a conceptual model to describe how unpredictable and adverse early experiences affect children’s neurobiological, behavioral, and psychological development in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research priorities for early childhood development in the context of COVID-19: results from an international survey

Kerrie Proulx; Kristy Hackett; Shekufeh Zonji

Institution: Early Childhood Development Action Network
Published: February 2022

This project was undertaken in December 2021 using a short online questionnaire. Respondents were asked to provide demographic information and to select up to three urgent COVID-19 research priorities among a list of 15 topics related to early childhood development and nurturing care. This list was generated by reviewing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Nurturing Care Framework and expert opinion. Space was provided for respondents to list additional research priorities not included in the list. The questionnaire was completed by 98 respondents from 47 mostly low- and middle-income countries. Most respondents were professionals in the early childhood development space and users or consumers of research (59%), including pediatricians, early childhood educators and program managers. Thirty-six percent of respondents were researchers, and 5% worked for research funding agencies.

Children’s daily activities and well-being during the COVID-19 lockdown: associations with child and family characteristics

Vitor H. Oliveira; Paula C. Martins; Graça S. Carvalho

Published: February 2022   Journal: Current Psychology
Learning, leisure, social, and movement activities are essential facets of children´s development affecting their physical, mental, and social well-being. During the first Covid-19 lockdown and post-lockdown period, children´s everyday lives were disrupted and altered in significant ways for an extended period, raising several concerns regarding its negative effects. This study investigated children´s daily activities during the lockdown and post-lockdown period, considering child and family factors that influenced their participation, and the effects of daily activities on child well-being. Cross-sectional data were collected during June and July 2020 from a sample of 3rd and 4th graders (n = 110) and their parents. Participants reported the intensity of children´s weekly participation in various learning, leisure, socializing, and movement activities, child and family characteristics, and child well-being outcomes.
Socioemotional competencies of Indonesian preschoolers: comparisons between the Pre-Pandemic and pandemic periods and among DKI Jakarta, DI Yogyakarta and West Java Provinces

Sri Indah Pujiastuti; Sofia Hartati; Jun Wangb

Published: January 2022   Journal: Early Education and Development
Despite being the largest archipelago and the fourth populous country in the world, Indonesia has received limited research attention to the socioemotional development of its diverse child populations. As the corona virus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic significantly interrupted the life of individuals and families all over the world, it is also critical time to better understand the status and need of Indonesian young children’s socioemotional development to inform corresponding practices and policies. This study investigated the differences in Indonesian preschoolers’ socioemotional competencies between the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods, as well as across three representative provinces of DKI Jakarta, DI Yogyakarta, and West Java.
Reopening childcare and early learning services: guidelines for East Asia and the Pacific
Institution: *UNICEF
Published: January 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for children in early childhood to develop healthy brains, bodies, and lives. While countries in East Asia and the Pacific have made substantial progress in investing in early childhood development (ECD), services supporting the development and learning of young children will likely suffer more than other education levels as they remain closed or in limited duration for fear of children contracting COVID-19.  This publication has been developed based on LACRO’s publication and adapted to suit the East Asia and the Pacific regional needs and context. It is intended for UNICEF country offices in the region to support their role in providing technical assistance to government partners and other organizations. The publication provides guidelines for reopening of services for young children aged 2 years up until the official primary school entry, either 5 or 6 years, and their families. It also includes a checklist to conduct rapid analysis of the services’ conditions and designing plans for a safe reopening. 

Home environment and social skills of Japanese preschool children pre- and post-COVID-19

Xiang Li; Dandan Jiao; Munenori Matsumoto (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Early Child Development and Care
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the daily life and social relationships of pre-school children globally. While many studies have examined the impact of the pandemic on children, few have compared the home environment and children’s social skills before and after the pandemic. To address this research gap, this study used data from the Japan Child Care Cohort study, which included questions on home environment answered by parents (1748 in 2019 and 1349 in 2020) of children aged 0–6 years using self-reported questionnaires and data on the social skills of children aged 1–6 years (1917 in 2019 and 1989 in 2020) that were evaluated by childcare professionals in childcare centres. Using the Chi-square test, home environments and social skills were compared.
Difficulties experienced in providing care of infants in the neonatal intensive care unit during COVID-19

Melike Yavas Celık; Selver Guler

Published: December 2021   Journal: Early Child Development and Care
In this study, it was aimed to determine the difficulties in receiving care for infants who are in neonatal intensive care during the pandemic process. In this phenomenological study, interviews were conducted with semi-structured questions with the participants. While collecting the data, both observation and interview techniques were used. The situations that prevent getting care from nurses are as follows. The inability to establish skin-to-skin contact with the infant, the problems caused by the equipment that nurses have to wear, and the fear of COVID-19. Conditions that prevent receiving care from the mother are as follows: removal of family visits, interruption of kangaroo care, failure to initiate breastfeeding. As a result, infants faced many difficulties in receiving care during the pandemic period and their care could not be applied properly and regularly.
The impact of maternal anxiety on early child development during the COVID-19 pandemic

Ljiljana Jeličić; Mirjana Sovilj; Ivana Bogavac (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: Frontiers in Psychology

Maternal prenatal anxiety is among important public health issues as it may affect child development. However, there are not enough studies to examine the impact of a mother's anxiety on the child's early development, especially up to 1 year. The present prospective cohort study aimed to examine whether maternal trait anxiety, perceived social support, and COVID-19 related fear impacted speech-language, sensory-motor, and socio-emotional development in 12 months old Serbian infants during the COVID-19 pandemic. This follow-up study included 142 pregnant women (Time 1) and their children at 12 months (Time 2). Antenatal maternal anxiety and children's development were examined. Maternal anxiety was assessed using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Child speech-language, sensory-motor, and socio-emotional development were assessed using the developmental scale in the form of an online questionnaire that examined the early psychophysiological child development. Information on socioeconomic factors, child and maternal demographics, clinical factors, and perceived fear of COVID-19 viral infection were collected. Multivariable General Linear Model analysis was conducted, adjusted for demographic, clinical, and coronavirus prenatal experiences, maternal prenatal anxiety levels, perceived social support, speech-language, motor skills, and cognitive and socio-emotional development at the infants' age of 12 months.

COVID-19 and early childhood development in low- and middle-income countries: a research roundup

Kristy Hackett; Kerrie Proulx; Shekufeh Zonji

Institution: Early Childhood Development Action Network
Published: December 2021

The global response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has changed daily life in many ways for children, families, and care providers. A sharp increase in research worldwide on COVID-19 and its impacts on children’s development and wellbeing has been seen. This research roundup, describes the nature and scope of the existing early childhood development (ECD) evidence related to components of nurturing care for young children, including health, nutrition, child protection, opportunities for learning, and responsive caregiving.

Young children’s play during a time of social distancing

Courtney Beers Dewhirst; Casey Cascio; Erin M. Casey

Published: October 2021   Journal: Early Child Development and Care
Through a 48-item questionnaire shared via social media, 546 participants from 47 American States reported on their children’s (ages 0–8) play activities during early social distancing efforts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used for data analysis. Results from the questionnaire indicate participants took social distancing guidelines seriously by keeping children at home and away from other children during the period of social distancing, thus affecting play behaviours. The study’s findings are significant in that they document some parents’ perspectives of their children’s play during a unique period in American history.
Young children’s play during a time of social distancing

Courtney Beers Dewhirst; Casey Cascio; Erin M. Casey

Published: October 2021   Journal: Early Child Development and Care
Through a 48-item questionnaire shared via social media, 546 participants from 47 American States reported on their children’s (ages 0–8) play activities during early social distancing efforts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used for data analysis. Results from the questionnaire indicate participants took social distancing guidelines seriously by keeping children at home and away from other children during the period of social distancing, thus affecting play behaviours. The study’s findings are significant in that they document some parents’ perspectives of their children’s play during a unique period in American history. The authors discuss implications for parent and child play behaviours including the need for more unstructured play time, realities of parents working from home with children present, and the effects of children having a lack of access to peers to play with for sociodramatic and symbolic play.
Love and peace across generations: biobehavioral systems and global partnerships

James F. Leckman; Liliana Angelica Ponguta; Gabriela Pavarini (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Comprehensive Psychoneuroendocrinology
Children's environments - especially relationships with caregivers - sculpt not only developing brains but also multiple bio-behavioral systems that influence long-term cognitive and socioemotional outcomes, including the ability to empathize with others and interact in prosocial and peaceful ways. This speaks to the importance of investing resources in effective and timely programs that work to enhance early childhood development (ECD) and, by extension, reach communities at-scale. Given the limited resources currently devoted to ECD services, and the devastating impact of COVID-19 on children and communities, there is a clear need to spur government leaders and policymakers to further invest in ECD and related issues including gender and racial equity. This essay offers concrete examples of scholarly paradigms and leadership efforts that focus on child development to build a peaceful, equitable, just, and sustainable world.
Breastfeeding during the Covid-19 pandemic

J. P. Dadhich; Nupur Bidla

Published: September 2021   Journal: Journal of Neonatology
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a serious challenge to the lactating women to practice optimal infant and young child feeding. Although international and national agencies developed appropriate evidence-based guidelines early in the pandemic, availability of this information to the mothers and their caregivers needs to be enhanced. This becomes important in view of apprehension about the risk of a decline in breastfeeding practices during the pandemic due to various factors. Any decrease in the breastfeeding rates may lead to increased childhood morbidity, mortality, and malnutrition. This article provides a glimpse of available evidence-based guidelines on breastfeeding by Covid-19 positive mothers and attempts by the baby food industry to exploit the situation by promoting their products. The article also deals with infection prevention and control measures to be observed by the mother while caring and breastfeeding her baby and other action required to protect breastfeeding from commercial influence.
The impact of COVID-19 on early childhood reading practices

Deborah L. Wheeler; Jennifer C. Hill

Published: September 2021   Journal: Journal of Early Childhood Literacy
COVID-19 has changed the daily lives of families, impacted on work, social interactions, and mental health. Since spring 2020, parents have been working from home and children have been home from daycare and school. Parents are experiencing stress in an attempt to satisfy the demands of work, family, and COVID-19 concerns. Due to the fact that children have been home from daycare and school, parents have the sole responsibility of caring for and teaching their children until schools are able to fully and effectively meet the needs of educating students in an adapted format. Research provides a wealth of information documenting the advantages of parents reading to their children. Children benefit from read-alouds with parental interaction, and these benefits include an increase in oral language skills, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and an increase in motivation to read. The purpose of this study is to answer two questions: (1) Since parents were home more often with their children, were parents spending more quality time reading to their two-to four-year-old children? This can be defined as reading developmentally appropriate books to their children with their undivided attention; and (2) Since parents were home more often with their two-to four-year-old children, were parents reading more to their young children? Parents of pre-kindergarten students were surveyed to determine the answers to these questions.
Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on caregiver mental health and the child caregiving environment in a low-resource, rural context

Helen O. Pitchik; Fahmida Tofail; Fahmida Akter (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Child Development
Early child development has been influenced directly and indirectly by the COVID-19 pandemic, and these effects are exacerbated in contexts of poverty. This study estimates effects of the pandemic and subsequent population lockdowns on mental health, caregiving practices, and freedom of movement among female caregivers of children 6–27 months (50% female), in rural Bangladesh. A cohort (N = 517) was assessed before and during the pandemic (May–June, 2019 and July–September, 2020). Caregivers who experienced more food insecurity and financial loss during the pandemic reported larger increases in depressive symptoms (0.26 SD, 95% CI 0.08–0.44; 0.21 SD, 0.04–0.40) compared to less affected caregivers. Stimulating caregiving and freedom of movement results were inconsistent. Increases in depressive symptoms during the pandemic may have consequences for child development.
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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.