Pandemic babies could be more at risk for develpmental delays

COLUMBUS, Miss (WCBI) – As the COVID pandemic begins to fade, new studies are now showing some of the lasting effects.

Recent research suggests that babies conceived and born during the pandemic face social and communication developmental delays.

The pandemic not only shut the country down but may also have shifted the future development of the next generation.

A study by the Clemson University College of Education shows that one in six children is developmentally delayed; however, children born during the pandemic are at twice the risk for developmental delays in communication and social development.

Director of the MUW Child and Parent Development Center, Penny Mansell says one contributing factor could be a lack of early social interaction.

“We missed that fact that a trip to Walmart was going to be a sensory experience that a kid needed when going into the real world. They’ve missed birthday parties; they missed going to grandma’s house; they missed going to church or to the park to play. We missed a lot of playing with other children, and other households getting together to play,” Mansell said.

And the effects of those delays can put a strain on early childhood educators.

“It is requiring a lot of our caregivers to be able to slow down and talk every child through the behavior and reactions and how our friend feels when they get offended or hurt. Are we teaching empathy? Are we teaching them to use their calm executive state instead of their survival state? There are a lot of things going on that have made us slow down the academic role that we typically have and focus more on social-emotional,” Mansell said.

Some the professionals like Naomi Edmonds an Early Learning Director believe it’s going to require more staffing, but that solution presents its own challenges not only for childcare facilities and parents but also for the entire community.

“This is a problem that is not going to go away until we fix it and until we get the help we need, and the help that we need is going to require more bodies, and that is the slippery slope we will all deal with in childcare because there is no extra money in childcare all we try to do is break even,” Edmonds said.

“Are we going to do what’s needed for these children? Are they important enough? Are the future of our city, our state, and our country is it enough? Is it enough for us to get the help that is needed when it’s needed?”

Parents who think their child may be experiencing delays are encouraged to visit the ages and stages questionnaire by clicking here.

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