HealthDay News — Birth during the COVID-19 pandemic, but not in utero exposure to maternal severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, is associated with differences in neurodevelopment at age 6 months, according to a study published online Jan. 4 in JAMA Pediatrics.
Lauren C. Shuffrey, Ph.D., from the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues examined the associations of maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy and being born during the COVID-19 pandemic, irrespective of maternal SARS-CoV-2 status, with neurodevelopment at age 6 months in a cohort of infants. Neurodevelopment was assessed at 6 months using the Ages & Stages Questionnaire, 3rd Edition (ASQ-3).
Overall, 596 women were enrolled and 385 were invited to a six-month assessment, of whom 272 completed the ASQ-3. Data were available for 255 infants (114 in utero-exposed, 141 unexposed to SARS-CoV-2) and for a historical cohort of 62 infants born before the pandemic. The researchers found no significant differences in any ASQ-3 subdomains in association with in utero exposure to maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of infection timing or severity. However, in fully adjusted models, infants born during the pandemic had significantly lower scores on gross motor, fine motor, and personal-social subdomains compared with the historical cohort.
“The observed association between birth during the pandemic and neurodevelopmental status, regardless of maternal SARS-CoV-2 status, suggests a potential pathway involving maternal pandemic-related distress that warrants future investigation,” the authors write.
Two authors disclosed financial ties to the medical device industry.