Did recently-published research find signs of impaired cognitive development in children born during the pandemic?

Tuesday, August 17, 2021
By Jacob Alabab-Moser
This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.

Researchers comparing cognitive scores of a group of Rhode Island children born in 2020 and 2021 to scores of others born in the preceding decade found that “children born during the pandemic have significantly reduced verbal, motor, and overall cognitive performance compared to children born pre-pandemic.” This effect was more pronounced among impoverished children.

The study, which is awaiting peer review, was funded by the National Institutes of Health, and conducted by a team of researchers at Brown and other U.S. universities.

While causation was not definitively established, researchers cite concerns about the impact of pandemic policies—stay-at-home orders, masking and social distancing—on early neurodevelopment given the “missed educational opportunities and reduced interaction, stimulation and creative play with other children.”

The known negative impact of conditions such as “family and home stress, parent and child anxiety, lack of stimulating environments,” and financial strain adds support to the findings, they said.

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