One in four babies born in Ireland during the first lockdown had never met another child of a similar age by their first birthday.
A new study of 354 infants born between March and May 2020 examined the upbringing of infants born at the beginning of the pandemic.
By the age of six months, it was found that the average number of people who had kissed the baby, including the child’s parents, was three.
The lead author, Dr. Susan Byrne said she was particularly struck by the statistic that a quarter of the infants studied did not meet a child of their own age until they were one year old.
The study, conducted by the Royal College of Surgeons and Children’s Health Ireland, asked parents to write down words to describe raising a baby during the pandemic.
Almost half of parents, or 44 percent, used the word “lonely,” while about a third described their experience as “isolating.” Other prominent negative words reported were “concerning,” reported by 15 percent of parents, and “challenging,” used by 14 percent.
On a positive note, ‘strong attachment’ was used by 15pc, while other common positive words used by parents to describe caring for their babies in the early pandemic months included ‘family time’ along with ‘quiet/ were peaceful”.
The study reported that 12 of the babies contracted Covid-19 in their first year of life, but there was no significant difference in the reported negative or positive words used by parents compared to parents of babies without Covid-19 Infection or first-time parents or those who have had children before.
dr Byrne, senior lecturer at the FutureNeuro Center in the Department of Pediatrics at the Royal College of Surgeons, said the work is part of the CORAL study led by Professor Jonathan Hourihane.
“This study examines allergies, immune function and child development in over 350 babies born during the pandemic,” she said.
“As part of the 12-month assessment, we wanted to understand how the parents involved in the study felt about parenting during the pandemic.
“Overall, the reports were about loneliness and isolation.
“However, many parents also report positive experiences of a strong bond and family time.”
The consultant pediatric neurologist said she was interested to see that families had very small social circles when the babies were born.
“(They were) only meeting one person outside the home on average at that time.
“Although we didn’t have pre-pandemic groups of children to compare this to, we all know that before the pandemic it was very common for parents to meet other parents with children of similar ages through social groups, as well as grandparents and friends and neighbors “.
The study just published in General Journal of Pediatricsconcluded that lockdowns and social restrictions made raising a baby a challenge for any parent in Ireland.
“I think it will help parents to see that their feelings have been shared with other parents,” said Dr. byrne
She said the overarching goal of the study, which she conducted alongside Professor Hourihane and medical student Hailey Sledge, was to look at allergies in infants.
“So far, the CORAL study has shown that infection rates were lower and breastfeeding rates were higher at six months of age, and that babies born during lockdown had higher rates of Atopic dermatitis at the age of one year.
“As a neurologist, I am particularly interested in whether the developmental milestones in this group of babies differ from babies born before the pandemic.
“We are currently analyzing this data,” she said.
https://www.independent.ie/life/family/mothers-babies/parenting-lockdown-babies-was-lonely-but-it-helped-to-form-a-strong-bond-with-infant-study-finds-41942047.html Raising lockdown babies was ‘lonely’ but it helped build a ‘strong bond’ with infants, study found