The Pandemic Pediatrician: What We Know Now

William T. Basco, Jr, MD, MS


December 04, 2020

The Emotional Fallout of the Pandemic on Children

In October, JAMA Network editors were asked to reflect on the clinical, public health, operational, and workforce issues related to COVID-19 in each of their specialties. Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Hospital and editor of JAMA Pediatrics reflected on the effects of the pandemic on children .

I thought it was particularly worth emphasizing the threats to psychological well-being that children will experience. As Christakis states:

"An entire birth cohort of children will have missed seminal events such as middle school, high school or college graduations, senior proms, and sports seasons, that will be indelibly lacking from their memories, their yearbooks, and their Instagram feeds."

We are all seeing the effects on children of families experiencing financial and psychological stress. More children will have experienced deaths in the family as well.

As pediatricians, we have a role in monitoring the potential educational and developmental effects of a year and a half (at minimum) of remote learning. I sincerely hope that the concerns expressed about a year of "lost learning" on a population level are not fully realized. But all of us, collectively, asking families about these aspects of child well-being can be part of what helps us identify the children most at risk. The JAMA Pediatrics patient page published a helpful resource that focuses on one of the behavioral issues exacerbated by the pandemic — sleep issues. This one-page patient handout briefly reviews sleep hygiene, with a focus on young children, but it also has some tips that would be appropriate for adolescents. It is a good patient resource to consider keeping in your office.


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