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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

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

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Pandemic-associated mental health changes in youth with neuroinflammatory disorders

Lindsey M. Logan; Samantha Stephens; Beyza Ciftci-Kavaklioglu (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders

Children with neuroinflammatory disorders have high rates of anxiety and depression, alongside low rates of physical activity. Given general concerns for mental and physical health in children during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, this study sought to understand how sleep, anxiety, depression, and physical activity changed with the lockdown in children with neuroinflammatory disorders. It hypothesized that outcomes would worsen during the lockdown, and that they would differ by underlying disorder category and age. Patients attending a specialized neuroinflammatory clinic (n = 314) completed questionnaires (n = 821 responses; Jan 2017-Aug 2020) assessing sleep, anxiety, depression, and physical activity. Respondents had either: childhood-onset chronic or recurrent neuroinflammatory disorders (CRNI), a history of Autoimmune Encephalitis (AE) or Monophasic Acquired Demyelinating Syndromes (monoADS). We performed linear mixed models to examine the association between our outcome measures (sleep, anxiety, depression, and physical activity) and categories of disorder type, sex, age, physical activity, relapses, and time (pre- vs. post- COVID-19 lockdown). Participant ID acted as a random effect, to account for repeated measures.

Moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity among adolescents in the USA during the COVID-19 pandemic

Jason M. Nagata; Catherine A. Cortez; Erin E. Dooley (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Preventive Medicine Reports
This study aimed to evaluate adolescents’ moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) during the COVID-19 pandemic with regards to sociodemographic characteristics and determine mental health and resiliency factors associated with MVPA among a diverse national sample of adolescents ages 10–14 years. Data were collected during the pandemic in May 2020 from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD, N = 5,153), a national prospective cohort study in the U.S. MVPA was quantified as the product of reported duration and frequency (hours per week), which was further summarized as the proportion meeting age-appropriate 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. A similar estimate was generated using MVPA data collected prior to the pandemic. Mental health and resiliency measures were collected during the pandemic. Regression models examined associations between mental health or resiliency measures and MVPA during the pandemic.
Parental perceptions of the impact of COVID-19 and returning to play based on level of sport

Michael B. Edwards; Jason N. Bocarro; Kyle S. Bunds (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: Sport in Society
This study examined the impact of COVID-19 on youth sport parents based on competition level to understand how the pandemic affected youth sport and factors associated with youth returning to sport. Survey data were collected from samples of US sport parents in two waves - early in the pandemic (N = 751) and as programs began to resume (N = 707). Data showed elite sport parents were more willing to return. Although most participants returned to play, significant numbers had not resumed participation. Parent comfort was the most important factor associated with resuming. However, parents allowed children to resume play due to perceived external pressure, potentially creating stress among parents regarding sport participation decisions. Attending school in person and household income were associated with the ability to resume sport suggesting the need to provide school sport environments and consider the financial impacts of COVID-19 on sport families.
Changes in obesity and lifestyle behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic in Chinese adolescents: a longitudinal analysis from 2019 to 2020

Dongling Yang; Chunyan Luo; Xiaogang Feng (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: Pediatric Obesity

Since December 2019, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has become a global pandemic. Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing. What changes have taken place in the obesity and obesity-related lifestyle behaviours of adolescents during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic? This study aims at analysing the changes in obesity and lifestyle behaviours of Chinese adolescents before and 1 year after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing evidence for the global strategies to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on adolescent obesity.

Effects of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on parents' attitudes towards green space and time spent outside by children in Cambridgeshire and North London, United Kingdom

Kate Howlett; Edgar C. Turner

Published: December 2021   Journal: People and Nature

In the United Kingdom, children are spending less time outdoors and are more disconnected from nature than previous generations. However, interaction with nature at a young age can benefit wellbeing and long-term support for conservation. Green space accessibility in the United Kingdom varies between rural and urban areas and is lower for children than for adults. It is possible that COVID-19 lockdown restrictions may have influenced these differences. In this study, we assessed parents' attitudes towards green space, as well as whether the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions had affected their attitudes or the amount of time spent outside by their children, via an online survey for parents of primary school-aged children in Cambridgeshire and North London, UK (n = 171). We assessed whether responses were affected by local environment (rural, suburban or urban), school type (state-funded or fee-paying) or garden access (with or without private garden access).

Combatting sedentary behaviors by delivering remote physical exercise in children and adolescents with obesity in the COVID-19 era: a narrative review

Matteo Vandoni; Roberto Codella; Roberto Pippi (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: Nutrients
The coexistence of childhood obesity (or its risk) and COVID-19 pandemic put children and adolescents in greater risk to develop respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. In fact, the restrictions introduced to limit the spread of the virus had detrimental effects on various lifestyle components, especially in young population. This resulted in augmented levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviors and a reduced time spent in play outdoors or sport practices. Contrariwise, the increased use of technology led clinicians, teachers, and trainers to maintain relations with obese children/adolescents so as to reduce sedentary behaviors and the associated health risks. This narrative review aims to describe the role of Telehealth and Tele-exercise as useful tools in the management of pediatric obesity during COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth and Tele-exercise were effective in promoting self-monitoring and behavioral changes, including adherence to exercise training programs in children and adolescents. Moreover, tele-exercise platforms such as applications or exergames allowed flexible scheduling, limiting the infection risks.
Changes in physical fitness, dietary habits and family habits for Spanish children during SARS-CoV-2 lockdown

Oliver Ramos Álvarez; Víctor Arufe Giráldez; David Cantarero Prieto (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: International Jourmal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Background: habits related to diet and physical activity in children were modified due to the lockdown that Spain had between March and June 2019 because of the health crisis caused by the appearance of SARS-CoV-2. The aim of the study was to know the impact that the lockdown had on physical fitness values in children aged 11–12. The study consisted of 50 Spanish children aged 11–12 (M = 11.40; SD = 0.50), 33 (66%) boys and 17 (34%) girls. Data collection was performed using the Alpha-Fitness Battery, a validated instrument to assess dietary intake, habits and practices, and an ad hoc survey to collect sociodemographic data and other information relevant to the study.
Cite this research | Open access | Vol.: 18 | Issue: 24 | No. of pages: 17 | Language: English | Topics: Health, Nutrition | Tags: behavioural change, child health, child nutrition, COVID-19 response, lockdown, physical activity, social distance | Countries: Spain
Finnish late adolescents’ physical activity during COVID-19 spring 2020 lockdown

Kwok Ng; Pasi Koski; Nelli Lyyra (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: BMC Public Health

Physical activity (PA) is recognised as one of the leading and effective strategies to prevent non-communicable diseases that boosts the immune system to fight against diseases. Closures of schools, sport clubs and facilities because of COVID-19 reduced the opportunities to participate in PA. This study aimed to examine physical activity levels of late adolescents, the contexts to be physical active and its changes during the spring 2020 lockdown. A national representative sample of late adolescents in general upper secondary school (n = 2408, females = 64%, mean age = 17.2y, SD = 0.63) completed self-report online surveys on PA behaviours between March and June 2020. Multinominal logistic regression analyses were performed to identify correlates with PA, and decision tree analyses to ascertain the perceived changes on PA during lockdown based on sport club aspirations and levels of PA.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic childhood obesity is still an epidemic-spotlight on obesity's multifactorial determinants

Katya Saliba; Sarah Cuschieri

Published: December 2021   Journal: Health Sciences Review

Childhood obesity is a global epidemic and a chronic disease. Multifactorial determinants have long been linked with childhood obesity. These have been challenged with the onset of COVID-19 and the associated mitigation measures. The study aimed to re-highlight these determinants while exploring the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on these pre-existing childhood obesity determinants, while providing evidence that may be beneficial for the post-COVID-19 recovery plan. A PubMed literature search (2016–2021) using the keywords, “childhood obesity”, “gender”, “sex”, “obesity in youth”, “obesity in adolescents”, “COVID-19″ and “SARS-CoV2” was performed.

Children and parents’ perspectives of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Ontario children’s physical activity, play, and sport behaviours

Monika Szpunar; Leigh M. Vanderloo; Brianne A. Bruijns (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: BMC Public Health

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health measures have resulted in the closure of many physical activity-supporting facilities. This study examined Ontario parents’ and children’s perspectives of COVID-19’s impact on children’s physical activity behaviours, return to play/sport during COVID-19, as well as barriers/facilitators to getting active amid extended closures of physical activity venues. Parents/guardians of children aged 12 years and under living in Ontario, Canada were invited to participate in an interview. 12 parent/guardian and 9 child interviews were conducted via Zoom between December 2020 – January 2021, were audio-recorded, and transcribed verbatim. Thematic content analysis was undertaken to identify pronounced themes.

Activity during the COVID-19 pandemic in children with cardiac rhythm management devices

Robert Przybylski; Molly Craig; Matthew Lippmann (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: Pediatric Cardiology
Decreased physical activity is associated with cardiovascular, metabolic and mental health disease. While decreases in physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic have been described in the general population, there is a paucity of data regarding children with underlying cardiovascular disease. This study hypothesized there would be a decrease in physical activity at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Performed a single-center, retrospective cohort study of children aged < 19 years with cardiac rhythm management devices. Patients were included if they had device-measured physical activity data from > 80% of dates from February 3, 2020 through June 30, 2020. Patients with significant neurologic/neuromuscular disease were excluded.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic childhood obesity is still an epidemic - Spotlight on obesity's multifactorial determinants

Katya Saliba; Sarah Cuschieri

Published: December 2021   Journal: Health Sciences Review

Childhood obesity is a global epidemic and a chronic disease. Multifactorial determinants have long been linked with childhood obesity. These have been challenged with the onset of COVID-19 and the associated mitigation measures. The study aimed to re-highlight these determinants while exploring the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on these pre-existing childhood obesity determinants, while providing evidence that may be beneficial for the post-Covid-19 recovery plan. A PubMed literature search (2016-2021) using the keywords, “childhood obesity”, “gender”, “sex”, “obesity in youth”, “obesity in adolescents”, “COVID-19” and “SARS-CoV2” was performed.

The impact of COVID-19 on preschool-aged children’s movement behaviors in Hong Kong: a longitudinal analysis of accelerometer-measured data

Johan Y. Y. Ng; Qing He; Kar Hau Chong (et al.)

Published: November 2021   Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many preschool-aged children were forced to remain indoors due to social distancing measures and school closures. This study examined how children’s movement behaviors (sedentary behaviors, physical activity, and sleep) were affected by the pandemic. Children’s (N = 25, age = 4.4 years, SD = 0.3) movement behaviors were measured before and after the COVID outbreak, respectively. Data collected using accelerometers were analyzed using compositional data analyses. A significant change in the overall time-use composition (F = 5.89, p = 0.002) was found. Results suggested that children spent more time sleeping (8% increase) and in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (16% increase), with less time spent in sedentary behaviors (9% decrease). However, parent reports suggested that children were less active and had more screen time. In conclusion, the current evidence suggests that children’s physical activity is not negatively impacted by the pandemic.
Change in Japanese children’s 24-hour movement guidelines and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

Kim Hyunshik; Ma Jiameng; Lee Sunkyoung (et al.)

Published: November 2021   Journal: Scientific Reports
Specialized guidelines are required for the health behaviors of vulnerable populations such as children. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein major lifestyle changes have occurred, especially among young children. The present study aims to use longitudinal data to understand changes in the physical activity, screen time, sleep, and mental health of preschoolers in Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to pre-pandemic period. Subjective and objective measures were used to assess the variables of interest longitudinally. It was found that physical activity, adherence to WHO-recommended screen time, and prosocial behaviors decreased significantly. On the other hand, sedentary time and hyperactivity increased. Our results are consistent with findings from other countries. The implications with respect to outdoor playtime, screen-time in the context of online learning during the pandemic, and the effects of parents’ mental health on preschool-aged children are discussed.
Concerns of parents about children's overweight and obesity during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study

Mahdiye Razi; Ahmad Nasiri

Published: November 2021   Journal: Journal of Pediatric Nursing

Since the end of 2019, the world has been dealing with a new crisis caused by the widespread and global outbreak of the coronavirus that has affected various aspects of life. The stay-at-home orders issued to prevent the virus from spreading have caused many problems for families, such as obesity and overweight, particularly among children. As parents play a key role in the prevention of childhood obesity, the present qualitative study aimed to examine the experiences of parents regarding the obesity or overweight of their children during the outbreak of coronavirus. This study was performed using a qualitative descriptive approach. The sampling method was purposeful, and the required data were collected through in-depth, unstructured, and face-to-face interviews with 16 parents of children with obesity or overweight. The interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using Graneheim and Lundman conventional content analysis approach.

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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.