At least 22.5 per cent of children developed a significant fear of COVID-19, while 42.3 per cent suffering from irritability and inattention, a study by the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) showed.
Children with pre-existing behavioural problems have a high probability of worsening of their behavioural symptoms, said the study titled ”Psychological and behavioural impact of lockdown and quarantine measures for COVID-19 children on pandemic, adolescents and caregivers.”
Children as young as two years of age are aware of the changes around them and get affected by it, the study observed.
“Fifteen studies describing 22,996 children/adolescents fulfilled the eligibility criteria from a total of 219 records. Overall 34.5 per cent, 41.7 per cent, 42.3 per cent and 30.8 per cent of children were found to be suffering from anxiety, depression, irritability and inattention,” the study said.
It further observed, “52.3 per cent and 27.4 per cent of caregivers developed anxiety and depression, respectively, while being in isolation with children.”
Dr Sheffali Gulati, who headed the analysis said, “although the behavior/psychological state of a total of 79.4 per cent of children was affected negatively by the pandemic and quarantine, at least 22.5 per cent of children had a significant fear of COVID-19, and 35.2 per cent and 21.3 per cent of children had boredom and sleep disturbance.”
“Anxiety, depression, irritability, boredom, inattention and fear of COVID-19 are predominant new-onset psychological problems in children during the COVID 19 pandemic, Children with pre-existing behavioural problems like autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have a high probability of worsening of their behavioural symptoms,” Dr Gulati told ANI.
Studies that were previously done on epidemics caused by SARS, Ebola and Middle East respiratory syndrome came up with high prevalence of ”adverse psychological consequences on both children and adults.
A meta-analysis of observational studies in epidemiology and preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analysis guidelines were followed during the study.
Different electronic databases were searched for articles describing psychological/behavioural complications in children/adolescents with/without pre-existing behavioural abnormalities and their caregivers related to the COVID-19 pandemic.