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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

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

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Providing contact with nature for young generation - a case study of preschools in the City of Poznań, Poland

Iwona Zwierzchowska; Piotr Lupa

Published: September 2021   Journal: Urban Forestry & Urban Greening
Contact with nature is valuable for the health, wellbeing and development of children. Meanwhile, the urban environment and the contemporary urban lifestyle limit the opportunity for contact with nature. Given that children aged three to six years spend a significant amount of time in preschool, this study aimed to: 1) investigate children’s opportunities to contact with nature during their time in preschool, including the availability of these schools’ own outdoor spaces and neighbouring green spaces for visiting; 2) recognise preschools’ practices in using available green spaces to enable children to have contact with nature; 3) identify the impact on the outdoor activities provided by preschools of factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and preschool managers’ awareness of the importance of children’s contact with nature.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on elementary schoolers' physical activity, sleep, screen time and diet: A quasi-experimental interrupted time series study

Sarah Burkart; Hannah Parker; R. Glenn Weaver (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Pediatric Obesity

COVID-19 school closures pose a threat to children's wellbeing, but no COVID-19-related studies have assessed children's behaviours over multiple years . This study aims to examine children's obesogenic behaviours during spring and summer of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to previous data collected from the same children during the same calendar period in the 2 years prior. Physical activity and sleep data were collected via Fitbit Charge-2 in 231 children (7–12 years) over 6 weeks during spring and summer over 3 years. Parents reported their child's screen time and dietary intake via a survey on 2–3 random days/week.

Association of COVID-19 mitigation measures with changes in cardiorespiratory fitness and body mass index among children aged 7 to 10 years in Austria

Gerald Jarnig; Johannes Jaunig; Mireille N. M. van Poppel (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: JAMA Network Open

Were COVID-19 mitigation measures associated with changes in cardiorespiratory fitness measures and body mass index among primary schoolchildren in Austria? In this cohort study of 764 primary schoolchildren aged 7 to 10 years, COVID-19 mitigation measures were associated with substantial reductions in cardiorespiratory fitness measures and increases in body mass index SD scores and the proportion of children with overweight or obesity. The findings suggest that collaborative efforts are needed to improve children’s health and fitness to prevent long-term negative health outcomes.

Current and future implications of COVID-19 among youth wheelchair users: 24-hour activity behavior

Ryan T. Conners; Lauren C. Bates; Patricia Pagan Lassalle (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Children
Preventative measures taken worldwide to decrease the transmission of COVID-19 have had a tremendous impact on youth. Following social restrictions, youth with and without physical disabilities are engaging in less physical activity, more increased sedentary behavior, and poor sleep habits. Specifically, youth wheelchair users (YWU) are likely disproportionately affected by COVID- 19 and have a higher risk of contraction due to underlying comorbidities. While all of the negative long-term implications of COVID-19 for YWU cannot be controlled, participation in positive 24-h activity behaviors can decrease chronic disease risk and the likelihood of long-term complications resulting from infection. This commentary is to extend the discourse on the importance of 24-h activity behaviors by focusing on YWU. Specifically, it discuss the importance of chronic disease prevention, provide a brief overview of 24-h activity behaviors, and outline some of the lessons that can be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Behavioural improvements in children with autism spectrum disorder after participation in an adapted judo programme followed by deleterious effects during the COVID-19 lockdown

Jose Morales; David H. Fukuda; Vanessa Garcia (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
The public health lockdown prompted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which included school closures that may have potentially serious consequences for people with disabilities or special educational needs, disrupted an ongoing adapted judo training intervention in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The purpose of this study was to compare repetitive behaviours, social interaction, social communication, emotional responses, cognitive style and maladaptive speech scores across four time-points: baseline, after an eight-week control period, after an eight-week judo intervention and after an eight-week lockdown period due to COVID-19.
The impact of financial and psychological wellbeing on children’s physical activity and screen-based activities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Louise C. Mâsse; Iyoma Y. Edache; Mark Pitblado (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the public health measures to combat it, have strained the finances of many families. While parents transitioned to working from home, children transitioned to learning virtually, limiting their organized social and physical activities. Families also reduced the frequency and size of gatherings, impacting psychological wellbeing. This study sought to understand the influence of financial wellbeing on children’s physical activity and leisure screen-based activities via mothers’ and children’s psychological wellbeing. In May and June of 2020, 254 Grade 7 Canadian children and their mothers completed separate online surveys assessing family financial wellbeing, mothers’ and children’s psychological wellbeing, and children’s physical activity and leisure screen-based activities. Structural equation modelling was used to examine the indirect effects of mothers’ and children’s psychological wellbeing on the relationship between financial wellbeing and children’s physical activity and leisure screen-based activities. Final models were adjusted for potential confounders.
Play behaviors in children during the COVID-19 pandemic: a review of the literature

Anastasia Kourti; Androniki Stavridou; Eleni Panagouli (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Children
Play is a key factor for children’s healthy psychological, emotional, social, and cognitive development. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been postulated that children’s play was affected, not only regarding the time children spent playing but also in terms of the qualitative characteristics of play. The aim of this review was to investigate how children’s play has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. A review was conducted in the PubMed, Google Scholar, EMBASE, SCOPUS, ERIC, PsycInfo, and JSTOR databases up to 6 December 2020. Furthermore, references of eligible studies as well as of relevant articles were searched using a snowballing technique.
Objective behavioral measures in children before, during, and after the COVID-19 lockdown in Israel

Einat Shneor; Ravid Doron; Jonathan Levine (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Studies using questionnaires report that COVID-19 restrictions resulted in children spending significantly less time outdoors. This study used objective measures to assess the impact of pandemic-related restrictions on children's behavior. A total of 19 healthy 8-12-year-old boys were observed before and during social restriction periods. Of these, 11 boys were reassessed after restrictions were lifted. For each session, Actiwatches were dispensed for measures of time outdoors, activity, and sleep. Changes overall and by school status were assessed using signed-rank test and Wilcoxon rank sum tests.
Screen time in the COVID era: international trends of increasing use among 3- to 7-year-old children

Andrew D. Ribner; Linsah Coulanges; Samantha Friedman (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: The Journal of Pediatrics

This study aims to evaluate changes in electronic screen-based media use in 3- to 7-year-old children across six countries as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between April and July 2020, parents of 2516 children completed online survey measures reporting current (“now”) and retrospective (“before the pandemic”) screen-based media use for the purposes of entertainment, educational app use, and socializing with family and friends. Parents also reported family socioeconomic characteristics and impacts of the pandemic to their physical wellbeing (eg, whether a family member or friend had been diagnosed with COVID-19) and social disruption (e.g., whether family experienced a loss of income or employment due to the pandemic).

Physical activity for children with autism spectrum disorder during COVID-19 pandemic

Shahnaz Shahrbanian; Meysam Yavari Kateb; Patricia K. Doyle-Baker (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: International Journal of Developmental Disabilities
In December 2019, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) emerged in Wuhan, China that culminated in a serious pandemic condition. Physical distancing restrictions were a significant component of the public health emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For children and youth, these restrictions included safety measures that impacted daily activities related to physical activity (PA) participation worldwide. Preliminary evidence suggests that in children with special needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), COVID-19 restrictions may have disproportionally led to reduced levels of PA. The aim of this study was to review the benefits of PA for children with ASD and suggest Home PA Program examples for Children with ASD during COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine time.
Let them do PE! The becoming of Swedish physical education in the age of COVID-19

Seguya Kamoga; Valeria Varea

Published: August 2021   Journal: European Physical Education Review
Sweden received worldwide attention for its approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, throughout the pandemic, Sweden was one of the few countries that did not implement any lockdown measures. This meant that primary schools remained open and classes proceeded as usual, including the delivery of physical education (PE). This paper explores PE teachers’ perceptions of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Swedish PE. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with seven PE teachers. Results suggest that teaching PE during COVID-19 has led to disparate challenges and changes for teachers, including modifications in context, content, roles and responsibilities, as well as the handling of issues concerning physical contact and proximity among students and teachers. The conclusions of this study reveal that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parameters of PE in Sweden are changing more rapidly now than ever before. Understanding how the pandemic has impacted the subject of PE and its delivery might create opportunities for further discussions, possible solutions and subsequent necessary adjustments in dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
Physical activity participation and barriers for children and adolescents with disabilities

Sarah MacEachern; Nils Daniel Forkert; Jean-Francois Lemay

Published: July 2021   Journal: International Journal of Disability, Development and Education
Children and adolescents with disabilities benefit from physical activity. However, this population has lower fitness levels and higher rates of obesity than their peers, suggesting that they are not meeting physical activity guidelines and are experiencing barriers to participation. The purpose of this study was to quantify physical activity participation and barriers experienced by children and adolescents with disabilities in our area. Forty-five parents or caregivers of children aged 2‒18 with physical and/or intellectual disabilities completed a questionnaire regarding physical activity participation in an average week and barriers to participation, prior to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Data were analysed using quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
Children’s eating habits, physical activity, sleep, and media usage before and during COVID-19 pandemic in Poland

Edyta Łuszczki; Anna Bartosiewicz; Iwona Pezdan (et al.)

Published: July 2021   Journal: Nutrients
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge changes in people’s lifestyle, health, and social relationships. This situation has had an impact on children and adolescents, affecting their health, intellectual, physical, and emotional development. The survey aimed to compare eating behaviors, level of physical activity (PA), hours of sleep, and screen time among Polish children and adolescents aged 6–15 years before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We obtained self-reported data from 1016 participants at two measurement points before and during the COVID-19 lockdown in Poland to examine the influence of the lockdown and the distance learning on PA, dietary habits, sleep, and media usage of children and adolescents aged 6–15 years.
The effects of the measures against COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity among school-aged children and adolescents (6–17 years) in 2020: a protocol for systematic review

Donglin Hu; He Zhang; Yingshuang Sun (et al.)

Published: July 2021   Journal: Plos One
The objective of this systematic review is to investigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on PA in children and adolescents aged 6–17 years during 2020. 1). What impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on PA levels in school-aged children and adolescents? 2). Investigating changes in the locations of school-aged children’s and adolescents’ PA between the pre-COVID-19 period (January 2020) and the COVID-19 period (December 2020).
Changes in weight and height among Chinese preschool children during COVID-19 school closures

Juan Wen; Lijun Zhu; Chenbo Ji

Published: July 2021   Journal: International Journal of Obesity

COVID-19-related school closures may increase the prevalence of childhood obesity, which has aroused public concerns. This study aimed to analyze the weight and height changes in Chinese preschool children during the COVID-19-related school closures period. A total of 124,603 children from multi-city kindergartens in China were included in this study. It evaluated the prevalence of overweight and obese in preschool children experienced school closures, and compared the changes in BMI, weight, and height of preschool children among COVID-19 school closures period, the same period last year and the same period the year before last.

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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.