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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 348
Drug use by young people did not go up or down during pandemic

Alison Knopf

Published: October 2021   Journal: Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter
Alcohol use declined and use of nicotine and misuse of prescriptions increased among 10–14-year-olds during the pandemic, according to a study published last week. Overall, the rate of drug use among these young people remained stable during the pandemic based on repeated surveys of more than 7,800 people ages 10 to 14 conducted between Sep. 2019 and Aug. 2020.
Association of children’s physical activity and screen time with mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

Pooja S. Tandon; Chuan Zhou; Ashleigh M. Johnson

Published: October 2021   Journal: JAMA Network Open

Children’s physical activity and screen time are likely suboptimal during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may influence their current and future mental health. To describe the association of physical activity and screen time with mental health among US children during the pandemic. This cross-sectional survey was conducted from October 22 to November 2, 2020, among 547 parents of children aged 6 to 10 years and 535 parent-child dyads with children and adolescents (hereinafter referred to as children) aged 11 to 17 years and matched down to 500 children per cohort using US Census–based sampling frames. Children aged 11 to 17 years self-reported physical activity, screen time, and mental health, and their parents reported other measures. Parents of children aged 6 to 10 years reported all measures. All 1000 cases were further weighted to a sampling frame corresponding to US parents with children aged 6 to 17 years using propensity scores.

Young people’s romantic relationships and sexual activity before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

Jennifer Yarger; Abigail Gutmann-Gonzalez; Sarah Han (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: BMC Public Health

Social distancing measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 may profoundly impact young people’s relationships. This study compared adolescent and young adults’ romantic relationships and sexual activity before and after social distancing policies were enacted. In June 2020, 351 youth participating in an ongoing intervention study in Fresno County, California completed an online survey about their experiences related to COVID-19. The survey included open and closed-ended questions about their romantic relationships, sexual activity, and online romantic or sexual interactions before and during social distancing restrictions. The chi-square test of independence was used to compare adolescent (ages 13–17) and young adults’ (ages 18–21) responses. Results were also compared to responses in the intervention study’s baseline survey.

Brief report: feasibility and acceptability of a remote-based nutrition education program for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: a COVID-19 pilot study

Riley H. Shurack; Jeanette M. Garcia; Keith Brazendale (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
This paper aims to examine the feasibility and acceptability of a remote-based nutrition education program during COVID-19 for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Ten adolescents with ASD participated in a 4-week nutrition education program utilizing Zoom software during COVID-19. Topics included shopping for healthy food, and food preparation safety measures. Attendance was collected for each session. Participants, parents, and the classroom teacher completed post-program surveys and interviews. The course attendance rate was 97%. Every adolescent reported they would participate in similar future programs, and the teacher/parents felt the program was a positive experience for the participants. The remote-based nutrition education program appeared to be feasible and acceptable to participants. Future research should focus on program efficacy.
The relationship between COVID-related parenting stress, nonresponsive feeding behaviors, and parent mental health

Leslie Ann Frankel; Caroline Bena Kuno; Ritu Sampige

Published: October 2021   Journal: Current Psychology
COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of families across the United States and all over the world. Stress is known to have a negative impact on parent–child feeding interactions; hence, the purpose of this study is to examine how COVID-related parenting stress, which was measured using a newly developed scale, is related to parent mental health, nonresponsive feeding, and children’s self-regulation of eating. 119 parents of children ages 2–7 years old filled out questions about COVID-related parenting stress, mental health, nonresponsive feeding behaviors, and children’s self-regulation of eating. A series of multiple regressions were run to predict parent anxiety and psychological distress from COVID-related parenting stress. COVID-related parenting stress was found to be a significant predictor of both parent anxiety and psychological distress. When COVID-related parenting stress was further broken down into COVID-Related Job/Financial Security Stress and COVID-Related Family Safety/Stability Stress, COVID-Related Job/Financial Security Stress predicted psychological distress while COVID-Related Family Safety/Stability Stress predicted parent anxiety.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on developmental care practices for infants born preterm

Melissa Scala; Virginia A. Marchman; Edith Brignoni-Pérez (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Early Human Development

This study aims to o assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on rates of hospital visitation and rates and durations of developmental care practices for infants born preterm. It analyzed electronic medical record data from 129 infants born at less than 32 weeks gestational age (GA) cared for in the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in a COVID-19-affected period (March 8, 2020 to Nov 30, 2020, n = 67) and the analogous period in 2019 (n = 62). Rates of family visitation and of family- and clinical staff-delivered developmental care were compared across cohorts, adjusting for covariates.

COVID-19 pandemic shifts in food-related parenting practices within an ethnically/racially and socioeconomically diverse sample of families of preschool-aged children

K. A. Loth; Z. Jib J. Wolfson; J. M. Berge (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Appetite
This study aimed to evaluate the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on food parenting practices used by parents of young children. Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) was used to evaluate parents’ use of coercive, indulgent, structured, and autonomy supportive food parenting practices before and during the COVID-19 pandemic among a diverse racial/ethnic sample (n = 72) of parents of preschool-aged children. The impact of parent and child mood/behavior on use of specific food parenting practices was also evaluated during both time periods.
A schema of toxic stress informed by racism, transgenerational stress, and disadvantage

Felesia R. Bowen; Linda A. Lewandowski; Julia A. Snethen (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Journal of Pediatric Health Care

The Toxic Stress Schema (TSS) is an ecological framework with a social justice lens for identifying and alleviating stress and strengthening social determinants of health for children and families of color impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the cumulative effects of racism and generational, systemic inequities. Relevant literature is reviewed, and examples were provided to illustrate the differential impacts of the “stress superstorm” of 2020 had on children of color based on their family's position on the advantage–disadvantage continuum.

Child physical abuse and COVID-19: trends from nine pediatric trauma centers

Katie W. Russell; Shannon N. Acker; Romeo C. Ignacio (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Journal of Pediatric Surgery

Economic, social, and psychologic stressors are associated with an increased risk for abusive injuries in children. Prolonged physical proximity between adults and children under conditions of severe external stress, such as witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic with “shelter-in-place orders”, may be associated with additional increased risk for child physical abuse. This study hypothesized that child physical abuse rates and associated severity of injury would increase during the early months of the pandemic as compared to the prior benchmark period. A nine-center retrospective review of suspected child physical abuse admissions across the Western Pediatric Surgery Research Consortium was conducted. Cases were identified for the period of April 1-June 30, 2020 (COVID-19) and compared to the identical period in 2019. Patient demographics, injury characteristics, and outcome data were also collected.

Disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States: a 2021 update

Don Bambino Geno Tai; Irene G. Sia; Chyke A. Doubeni (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
The COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on people from some racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. persisted throughout 2021. Black, Latinx, and American Indian persons have been hospitalized and died at a higher rate than White persons consistently from the start of the pandemic. Early data show that hospitalization and mortality rates for Black, Latinx, and American Indian children are higher than White children in a worrying trend. The pandemic has likely worsened the gaps in wealth, employment, housing, and access to health care: the social determinants of health that caused the disparities in the first place. School closures will have a long-lasting impact on the widening achievement gaps between Black and Latinx students and White students. In the earlier vaccination phase, Black and Latinx persons were being vaccinated at a lower rate than their proportion of cases due to vaccine hesitancy, misinformation, and barriers to access. Vaccine hesitancy rates among these groups have since decreased and are now comparable to White persons. Aggregated data make it challenging to paint a picture of the actual impact of COVID-19 on Asian Americans as they are a diverse group with significant disparities.
Psychological well-being of ruminative adolescents during the transition to COVID-19 school closures: An EMA study

Caroline M. Swords; Emma K. Lecarie; Leah D. Doane (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Journal of Adolescence

Adolescents with moderate-to-severe levels of trait rumination are at heightened risk for psychopathology and may be particularly vulnerable to disruptions caused by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As most past research documenting the impact of COVID-19 on adolescent well-being has been cross-sectional, it is unclear exactly how ruminative adolescents responded to the onset of the pandemic as it unfolded. This study used ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to explore changes in rumination among adolescents during the initial transition to distance learning in the United States. A subsample of 22 ruminative youth (Mage = 13.58; SD = 0.96; 54.5% male; 86.4% White) from a larger study provided EMA data throughout January–April 2020 (M responses per participant = 105.09, SD = 65.59). Following school closures, the study hypothesized that adolescents would report greater rumination (i.e., focusing on emotions and problems) and depressive symptom level would moderate this effect.

Health disparities and their effects on children and their caregivers during the Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic

Lynn C. Smitherman; William Christopher Golden; Jennifer R. Walton

Published: October 2021   Journal: Pediatric Clinics of North America

Health disparities are defined as differences among specific populations in the ability to achieve full health potential (as measured by differences in incidence, prevalence, mortality, burden of disease, and other adverse health conditions). Among children, multiple factors contribute to these disparities, including economic stability, and access to health care. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, before the current pandemic, 12 million children in the United States were living in poverty in 2019, including one-third of African American and Native American children and 25% of Latinx children.8 During the same period, of the 4.4 million children without health insurance, 14% were Native American, 9% were of Hispanic descent, and 18% were immigrants. At present, owing to the impact of the pandemic on job security, more than 50% of African American, Latinx, and multiethnic adults are now without medical insurance, directly affecting the health security of their children.8 With the onset of the pandemic and the social and political upheaval felt by many disenfranchised communities, these well-documented disparities (and the importance of addressing them) have again been brought to the attention of the medical community. This overview will examine the effects of these health disparities in various populations of children in this country. We will first examine the historical context of health disparities, how they developed, and why they still exist. We will then examine how specifically the COVID-19 pandemic impacted these disparities among children and adolescents, both directly and indirectly. Finally, we hope to provide some recommendations to reduce these disparities.

Innovative methods for remote assessment of neurobehavioral development

Hanna C. Gustafsson; Anna S. Young; Gayle Stamos (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, research institutions across the globe have modified their operations in ways that have limited or eliminated the amount of permissible in-person research interaction. In order to prevent the loss of important developmentally-timed data during the pandemic, researchers have quickly pivoted and developed innovative methods for remote assessment of research participants. This manuscript describes methods developed for remote assessment of a parent child cohort with a focus on examining the perinatal environment, behavioral and biological indicators of child neurobehavioral development, parent-child interaction, as well as parent and child mental and physical health.
Caregiver willingness to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 after adult vaccine approval

Ran D. Goldman; Danna Krupik; Samina Ali (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Vaccines against COVID-19 are likely to be approved for children under 12 years in the near future. Understanding vaccine hesitancy in parents is essential for reaching herd immunity. A cross-sectional survey of caregivers in 12 emergency departments (ED) was undertaken in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. This study compared reported willingness to vaccinate children against COVID-19 with an initial survey and post-adult COVID-19 vaccine approval. Multivariable logistic regression models were performed for all children and for those <12 years. A total of 1728 and 1041 surveys were completed in phases 1 and 2, respectively. Fewer caregivers planned to vaccinate against COVID-19 in phase 2 (64.5% and 59.7%, respectively; p = 0.002). The most significant positive predictor of willingness to vaccinate against COVID-19 was if the child was vaccinated per recommended local schedules. Fewer caregivers plan to vaccinate their children against COVID-19, despite vaccine approval for adults, compared to what was reported at the peak of the pandemic. Older caregivers who fully vaccinated their children were more likely to adopt vaccinating children. This study can inform target strategy design to implement adherence to a vaccination campaign.
The impact of COVID-19 on child welfare-involved families: implications for parent–child reunification and child welfare professionals

Abbie E. Goldberg; David Brodzinsky; Jacqueline Singer (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Developmental Child Welfare
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted children and parents involved in the child welfare system and the professionals working with these families. Using survey data collected August–September of 2020, this mixed-methods study examined the perspectives of 196 child welfare-involved professionals (77 attorneys, 99 caseworkers, and 20 therapists) in the United States about the impact of COVID-19 on parents of origin, children, foster parents, and child welfare professionals. Particular attention was paid to the implications of COVID-19 and associated challenges for parent–child contact and reunification. With respect to professional stresses, more than half of participants worried about their own personal safety and health amidst COVID-19, and more than three-quarters expressed concerns about the safety and well-being of child welfare-involved families.
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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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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.