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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

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

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Revisiting maternal and child undernutrition in low-income and middle-income countries: variable progress towards an unfinished agenda

AUTHOR(S)
Cesar G. Victora; Parul Christian; Luis Paulo Vidaletti (et al.)

Published: March 2021   Journal: The Lancet
13 years after the first Lancet Series on maternal and child undernutrition, we reviewed the progress achieved on the basis of global estimates and new analyses of 50 low-income and middle-income countries with national surveys from around 2000 and 2015. The prevalence of childhood stunting has fallen, and linear growth faltering in early life has become less pronounced over time, markedly in middle-income countries but less so in low-income countries. Stunting and wasting remain public health problems in low-income countries, where 4·7% of children are simultaneously affected by both, a condition associated with a 4·8-times increase in mortality. New evidence shows that stunting and wasting might already be present at birth, and that the incidence of both conditions peaks in the first 6 months of life. Global low birthweight prevalence declined slowly at about 1·0% a year. Knowledge has accumulated on the short-term and long-term consequences of child undernutrition and on its adverse effect on adult human capital. Existing data on vitamin A deficiency among children suggest persisting high prevalence in Africa and south Asia. Zinc deficiency affects close to half of all children in the few countries with data. New evidence on the causes of poor growth points towards subclinical inflammation and environmental enteric dysfunction. Among women of reproductive age, the prevalence of low body-mass index has been reduced by half in middle-income countries, but trends in short stature prevalence are less evident. Both conditions are associated with poor outcomes for mothers and their children, whereas data on gestational weight gain are scarce. Data on the micronutrient status of women are conspicuously scarce, which constitutes an unacceptable data gap. Prevalence of anaemia in women remains high and unabated in many countries. Social inequalities are evident for many forms of undernutrition in women and children, suggesting a key role for poverty and low education, and reinforcing the need for multisectoral actions to accelerate progress. Despite little progress in some areas, maternal and child undernutrition remains a major global health concern, particularly as improvements since 2000 might be offset by the COVID-19 pandemic.
State of school feeding worldwide 2020
Institution: World Food Programme
Published: February 2021
This publication by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) provides an analysis of the State of School Feeding Worldwide in 2020. A report on the State of School Feeding Worldwide was first published by WFP in 2013. This 2020 version follows a similar format and uses the best available data sources to describe key aspects of coverage, implementation practices and costs of school-based health and nutrition programmes worldwide. In addition, the 2020 version seeks to analyse the direction and scale of change between 2013 and 2020, and to provide an update on advances in evidence and understanding of school feeding programmes.
Maintaining human milk bank services throughout the COVID‐19 pandemic: a global response

AUTHOR(S)
Natalie Shenker; Marta Staff; Amy Vickers (et al.)

Published: December 2020   Journal: Maternal & Child Nutrition

If maternal milk is unavailable, the World Health Organization recommends that the first alternative should be pasteurised donor human milk (DHM). Human milk banks (HMBs) screen and recruit milk donors, and DHM principally feeds very low birth weight babies, reducing the risk of complications and supporting maternal breastfeeding where used alongside optimal lactation support. The COVID‐19 pandemic has presented a range of challenges to HMBs worldwide. This study aimed to understand the impacts of the pandemic on HMB services and develop initial guidance regarding risk limitation.


Feeding students during COVID-19—related school closures: a nationwide assessment of initial responses

AUTHOR(S)
Gabriella M. McLoughlin; Sheila Fleischhacker; Amelie A. Hecht (et al.)

Published: December 2020   Journal: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

This study aims to conduct a nationwide assessment of child nutrition administrative agencies’ responses to meal service provision during coronavirus disease 2019–related school closures. Systematic coding of government websites (February–May 2020) regarding school meal provision in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia, 5 US territories, and the US Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Education.

Cite this research | Open access | Vol.: 52 | Issue: 12 | No. of pages: 1120-1130 | Language: English | Topics: Nutrition | Tags: child health, child nutrition, COVID-19 response, food policies, lockdown, nutrition policy, school attendance | Countries: United States
COVID-19 and food security in Ethiopia: do social protection programs protect?

AUTHOR(S)
Kibrom A. Abay; Guush Berhane; John Hoddinott (et al.)

Institution: The World Bank
Published: November 2020
This paper assesses the impact of Ethiopia's flagship social protection program, the Productive Safety Net Program on the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food and nutrition security of households, mothers, and children. The analysis uses pre-pandemic, in-person household survey data and a post-pandemic phone survey. Two-thirds of the respondents reported that their incomes had fallen after the pandemic began, and almost half reported that their ability to satisfy their food needs had worsened. Employing a household fixed effects difference-in-difference approach, the study finds that household food insecurity increased by 11.7 percentage points and the size of the food gap by 0.47 months in the aftermath of the onset of the pandemic.
Food insecurity measurement and prevalence estimates during the COVID-19 pandemic in a repeated cross-sectional survey in Mexico

AUTHOR(S)
Pablo Gaitán-Rossi; Mireya Vilar-Compte; Graciela Teruel (et al.)

Published: October 2020   Journal: Public Health Nutrition

The aim of this study was validate the telephone modality of the Latin American and Caribbean Food Security Scale (ELCSA) included in three waves of a phone survey to estimate the monthly household food insecurity prevalence during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico. The reliability and internal validity of the ELCSA scale has been examined in three repeated waves of cross-sectional surveys with Rasch models. The monthly prevalence of food insecurity in the general population and in households with and without children has been estimated and compared them with a national 2018 survey. Concurrent validity has also been tested by testing associations of food insecurity with socio-economic status and anxiety.

Emergency food security monitoring system: measuring the impact of Covid-19 on food security and vulnerability in Sierra Leone
Institution: World Food Programme
Published: October 2020
The COVID-19 outbreak is posing an unprecedented context that has greatly tested the resolve and resilience of the global population. Whilst Sierra Leone may not have recorded a high COVID-19 caseload, the impact on economic and social activities has evidently been profound, triggering the not too distant memories of the 2014-15 Ebola Virus Disease outbreak. The June 2020 Emergency Food Security Monitoring System again provides critical and timely data to enhance our understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerability and food security. Concerningly, the E-FSMS again shows an increase in the proportion of food insecure Sierra Leoneans, from 47 percent in January 2020 to 63 percent in June 2020, demonstrating the considerable impact of COVID-19 on households that rely on fragile livelihoods.
The importance of investing in the wellbeing of children to avert the learning crisis
Institution: UNESCO, World Food Programme, *UNICEF, World Health Organisation
Published: October 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion school-age children in more than 190 countries. Already last year, 250 million school-age children being out of school, the world was facing a “learning crisis”. But now with the COVID-19 pandemic, this crisis could turn into a generational catastrophe. While many children will continue with their education once schools reopen, others may never return to school. Current estimates indicate that 24 million children will never return to the classroom and among those, disproportional number of girls. To avert this crisis, we need to reimagine how we deliver good quality and inclusive education to the world children. Among other things, this calls for urgent investments in school health and nutrition programmes and create the conditions for children to lead healthy lives. This also includes health and nutrition literacy offered through the curriculum and through counselling in the school health services which provides young people with knowledge, skills, values, culture and behaviours they need to lead healthy, empowered lives.

Global report on food crises update: in times of COVID-19
This report provides an update of acute hunger, its main drivers and how COVID-19 contributes to their perpetuation or deterioration. Sixteen partner organizations contributed to the report.
The hidden impact of COVID-19 on children's health and nutrition

AUTHOR(S)
Adetayo Omoni; Paul Rees-Thomas; Shahab Ali Siddiqu (et al.)

Institution: Save the Children
Published: September 2020
This report is one in a series presenting findings from the Global COVID-19 Research Study. The study focuses on implications  of COVID 19 for children’s health and nutrition, drawing on data from our representative sample of 17,565 parents/caregivers and 8,069 children in our programme participants group. The research presents differences in impacts on and needs of children by region, age, gender, disability, minority group, indicators of poverty and more. This study research was implemented in 46 countries and resulted in the largest and most comprehensive survey of children and families during the COVID-19 crisis to date, with 31,683 parents and caregivers and 13,477 children aged between 11 and 17 participating in the research.
Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security in Africa
In addition to its drastic impact to human health globally, the COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on the economies globally and notably in Africa. Countries on the continent have taken various measures to try and contain the spread of COVID-19 such as lockdowns, curfews, closure of borders and other movement restrictions including quarantines and roadblocks, closure of markets, fear of animals, among others. Early indications suggest that the impact on agriculture and food security and levels of poverty and malnutrition will be significant if urgent actions are not taken. Although the economic impacts of COVID-19 will be more significant than the SARS epidemic, the H1N1 flu epidemic and the Ebola epidemic, COVID-19 impact on economic well-being will be observed through two distinct but similar channels. First are the direct and indirect effects of the sickness and mortality, which will lead to an increase in health care costs and loss of economic activity of infected individuals during their illness. Second, are the behavioral effects resulting from people’s fear of contagion and measures taken by governments to control the spread of the infection. The impacts of essential containment/isolation and distancing measures on social and economic well-being are yet to be realized and could have tremendous effects, notably among the most vulnerable.
Disaster risk reduction in times of COVID-19: What have we learned?

AUTHOR(S)
Wirya Khim

Published: August 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has more than ever shown the changing risk environment, as well as the systemic and overlaying nature of risks that affect and threaten all sectors. It has reinforced the call for multi-sectoral, multi-hazard and preventive and anticipatory approaches that consistently integrate disaster, climate and crisis risk management for strengthening the resilience of people, their agricultural livelihoods and the ecosystems they depend on in a sustainable manner. In her opinion paper, FAO Natural Resources Officer Wirya Khim discusses the impact of COVID-19 on the agriculture and food systems through a disaster risk reduction lens and offers some key lessons learned that are geared toward evidence-based and risk-informed interventions for inclusive, resilient and sustainable agriculture and food systems.
Overweight and obesity - in the context of COVID-19
Institution: World Food Programme
Published: August 2020
Following the release of the WFP COVID-19 Medium-term programme framework (MTPF), the Nutrition Division has developed a number of guidance tools and documents related to the MTPF pillars of work. The Overweight and obesity in the context of COVID-19 technical note and guidance aims to support WFP's work in the area of promoting healthy and nutritious diets, and preventing all forms of malnutrition. Note that this is part of the forthcoming guidelines on overweight and obesity prevention, highlighting the key role that WFP can play across the various systems – food, health, social protection and education systems.
FAO-WFP early warning analysis of acute food insecurity hotspots

This FAO-WFP early warning analysis of acute food insecurity hotspots report highlights countries which are at risk of significant food security deterioration and in particular acute hunger and associated malnutrition. The analysis takes into account all major drivers of food insecurity, with a particular focus on the secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides a forward-looking perspective, outlining the likely evolution of impacts over the next 6 or so months aiming to inform urgent action to safeguard food security of the most vulnerable communities in these locations. The report is divided into three sections. It firstly includes an overview of the main pathways of secondary impacts of COVID-19 on food security, nutrition, and agriculture. This is followed by regional overviews and a focus on hotspot countries. The last section lists strategic recommendations which should be urgently implemented to avoid a large scale deterioration of acute food insecurity.

The state of food security and nutrition in the world 2020

Updates for many countries have made it possible to estimate hunger in the world with greater accuracy this year. In particular, newly accessible data enabled the revision of the entire series of undernourishment estimates for China back to 2000, resulting in a substantial downward shift of the series of the number of undernourished in the world. Nevertheless, the revision confirms the trend reported in past editions: the number of people affected by hunger globally has been slowly on the rise since 2014. The report also shows that the burden of malnutrition in all its forms continues to be a challenge. There has been some progress for child stunting, low birthweight and exclusive breastfeeding, but at a pace that is still too slow. Childhood overweight is not improving and adult obesity is on the rise in all regions.The report complements the usual assessment of food security and nutrition with projections of what the world may look like in 2030, if trends of the last decade continue. Projections show that the world is not on track to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030 and, despite some progress, most indicators are also not on track to meet global nutrition targets. The food security and nutritional status of the most vulnerable population groups is likely to deteriorate further due to the health and socio economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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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.