Child development in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic: repercussions for health promotion
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University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1168
Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has made the health situation worldwide serious, with possible effects on children related to behavioral, dietary and emotional changes. Objective: To analyze care circumstances and concerns about child development in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic from the maternal perspective. Methodology: Longitudinal study, through telephone interviews with 86 mothers of Brazilian children between two and three years old, with the same participants in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Results: Maternal reports express changes in the child’s sleep routine, diet and behavior. Dialogues about the pandemic were not carried out with children, mainly in 2020 (48%), with an improvement in 2021 and 2022. From the maternal perspective, the pandemic situation can harm child development, reported in 2020 (40%), increased in 2021 (63%) and returned to the same level in 2022 (40%). Reading children’s books was a practice carried out by the majority in 2020 (65%), 2021 (71%) and 2022 (63%). Use of electronic devices in children’s routine was frequent in 2020 (78%), 2021 (80%) and 2022 (94%). More than 90% of children’s vaccination status was up-to-date, and around 30% of families failed to take their children to health appointments during the analyzed period. Conclusions: There are gaps in activities to promote development, to establish limits and understand children’s needs. The situation of the COVID-19 pandemic presents itself as a circumstance that can generate difficulties in the process of caring and providing development at home. Implications for health: Health care in the context of early childhood requires advances to increase the decision-making process and choices of everyday parenting practices. Primary health care for children with quality and proximity to families has the potential to promote development, reduce vulnerabilities and contribute to meeting the essential needs of children.