A new study in Ireland has found that babies born during the COVID lockdown were less likely to be able to speak before their first birthday than children born previously.
The study, led by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, found that lockdown children were also displaying a disturbing array of cognitive impairments.
Summit.news reports: The study, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, focused on 309 babies born in the first three months of lockdown in Ireland between March and May 2020, and tested for ten behavioural milestones at their first birthday, with results then compared against 2000 babies born between the years 2008 and 2011.
The study, titled Social communication skill attainment in babies born during the COVID-19 pandemic, found lockdown babies were 14 per cent less likely to have said their first word, nine per cent less likely to have started pointing, and six per cent less likely to wave goodbye.
Researchers believe that face masks limited the children’s ability to see people’s mouths and become accustomed to facial expressions, leading to enhanced difficulties learning to speak.
In addition, prohibiting relatives and friends of the parents from visiting the children is thought to have contributed to the stunting of social development.
“Lockdown measures may have reduced the repertoire of language heard and the sight of unmasked faces speaking to [infants],” a statement from researchers reads.
It continues, “It may also have curtailed opportunities to encounter new items of interest, which might prompt pointing, and the frequency of social contacts to enable them to learn to wave bye-bye.”
“They were still more likely to be crawling… which might be because they were more likely to have spent more time at home on the ground rather than out of the home in cars and strollers,” the statement also noted.
While the study was observational only, it adds to other evidence that lockdowns and masking in particular have had massively detrimental impacts upon children.
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