|Ahead of print publication
COVID-19 pandemic and child health
Dr. D.Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra, India
|Date of Submission||17-Jul-2020|
|Date of Decision||26-Jul-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||21-Sep-2020|
Dr. D.Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
The coronavirus pandemic and consequential lockdown are having a severe effect on human beings, in general, as everyone is being forced to adjust to the changing dynamics of social and interpersonal relationships. There is an impact on children's health. However, fortunately, the children are at a lower risk of acquiring the disease. Moreover, children have milder manifestation and a better prognosis than adults. The vertical transmission of COVID-19 from mother to newborn baby is found to be extremely rare. Intrauterine transmission, effect of mode of delivery, or breastfeeding has not been reported in the newborn baby. If they are affected, the newborns recover without any complications. Therefore, separation from mother (suspected or confirmed case) is not advisable, and breastfeeding with precautions can be continued.
The restricted physical activities and social isolation, due to lockdown, as such, are more of a factor, in the physical and mental health of children during the present crisis. They, during the period of lockdown, somehow are taken to be lesser affected than the adults, but the fact is otherwise – they are the bigger sufferers. Physical activities, nutrition, immunization and psychological disturbances, and management of chronic illnesses are majorly affected, besides their schooling.
The enforcement of lockdown, to halt the spread of COVID-19, led to the curtailment of their physical activities and overexposure to electronic media, leading to significant weight gain and obesity. The silver lining, however, is that the home-made healthy and hygienic food is being provided to the children.
On the other hand, underprivileged children, being deprived of proper food, have been facing far too many incidences of multiple diseases and increased levels of malnutrition. This may be attributed to their not being rendered the services by the Aangnwadi workers, viz., door-to-door surveys and midday meals, loss of jobs, and en masse migration of their parents and caregivers.
Immunization program, one of the key interventions for the protection of children from life-threatening conditions which are preventable, stood suspended and deferred. The primary causes for nonimmunization may be attributed to not being able to access the facilities for want of transportation and fear. This may result in the emergence of vaccine preventable diseases.
The immunization should be advised to be completed now when the lockdown is being lifted gradually.
Uncertainty of education, career guidance, and examinations has greatly compromised the psychological and mental health of children and adolescents. It led to anxiety, depression, and behavioural changes. Other factors such as confinement within the four walls of the house, fear due to rudimentary knowledge of the prevailing situation, and greater exposure to parental discords, if any, have also led to psychological disturbances. Moreover, children have been exposed to increased risks of violence and abuse and have been found to suffer emotional, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse across the globe.
Children with chronic illnesses could not avail of institutional facilities of continuous care and follow-up under the guidance of the specialists concerned.
As the lockdown is being lifted gradually in phases, the problems should be looked into in a holistic manner to minimize the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19. It can be achieved by the combined efforts of healthcare providers, government, nongovernment organizations, and parents/caretakers.
Hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and physical distancing being the primary preventive measures must be practiced by all. Priority should be given to vaccination and multiple vaccines may be administered in a single visit. Primary immunization should not be postponed. Telemedicine may be promoted for consultation and monitoring the children's health.
| References|| |
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