Children are confined in their homes for more than a year now. Illness in the family, wage, and job losses among parents have increased their level of stress.
Director of the Department of Paediatrics, Lady Hardinge Medical college, Dr. Praveen Kumar said that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can have severe effects on children’s mental and physical health.
According to the doctor, “children are confined at their home for more than a year now due to the pandemic. Moreover, illness in the family, decrease in wages and job losses among parents in families have increased the level of stress.”
COVID-19 pandemic may expose children to psychological distress
Talking to ANI, the doctor said that children may be exposed to psychological distress (sadness) by acting out in different ways as each child has their own way of behaving. Dr. Kumar also mentioned that caregivers need to be patient while handling children and understand their emotions. “Look for signs of stress in young children, which could be excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty with attention and concentration. Families also need to support children to cope with stress and also allay their anxiety,” he said.
When asked about the effect of future COVID waves on children, the Lady Hardinge doctor said, “COVID-19 is a new virus that has the potential to mutate. We are not sure whether the future waves will affect children with increased severity is speculation or not. People speculate that children will be affected more during the future wave as most of the adults will be vaccinated within the next few months, while we do not have any approved vaccine for children at this point in time.”
COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women, lactating mothers will protect fetus, newborns
Dr. Kumar stated that the COVID vaccine for pregnant women and lactating mothers will protect the growing fetus and newborns against the deadly infection.
Speaking on the impact of the COVID second wave on children, he stated that the pandemic had equally affected children as compared to adults. “COVID-19 is a new virus and it affects all age groups because we do not have any natural immunity against it.”
As per Dr. Kumar, recent research has displayed similar seropositivity in children and adults. However, due to the large number of people affected during the second wave, the number of infected children was also more as compared to the first wave. So far, the mortality rate in children is low as compared to adults and is usually seen in children suffering from comorbidities.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought a complex array of challenges which had mental health repercussions for everyone, including children and adolescents. Grief, fear, uncertainty, social isolation, increased screen time, and parental fatigue have negatively affected the mental health of children. Friendships and family support are strong stabilising forces for children, but the COVID-19 pandemic has also disrupted them.
The mental health of millions of children worldwide has been put at risk, with at least one in seven forced to remain at home under nationwide public health orders, or recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 330 million youngsters have been stuck at home, till March 2021, for at least nine months, since the virus spread uncontrollably this time last year.
(Inputs – ANI)