Can Covid-19 affect children aged 5 years and younger?
The answer to this question seems to be ‘yes’. According to a new study published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care, the pandemic may have made a lifelong impact on young children.
When children under the age of five years experience negative events, such as disease outbreaks, food scarcity, unrest in society and so on, they may suffer long-lasting impacts on their health, education and relationships. We, as their caregivers, need to understand that these youngsters are vulnerable and will need to be monitored for developmental and behaviour health issues and supported throughout their lives. A potential delay of 2-4 years may occur between the initial experience(s) and the signs of mental health problems. This means that although you might recognise distress in a child now, you may continue to see more over the next 2-4 years.
Children in families that are already in stress due to lack of resources during the pandemic may be facing a higher risk.
Older children and teens are at risk as well. Loneliness, despite many families being confined together during the pandemic, is an issue for youngsters, making them more likely to develop symptoms of depression and anxiety that can persist post-pandemic.
In the coming months and years, children and teens can be helped by encouraging them in developing and maintaining daily routines around sleeping, eating and taking care of their bodies. The authors of article state that when a teenager is not able to keep to a routine, with appropriate support from parents or caregivers, it can be a sign that the teen is struggling and needs help.
The article, titled “Addressing the Clinical Impact of COVID-19 on Pediatric Mental Health” was published in the July/August edition of the Journal of Pediatric Health Care.