22.5% children have significant fear of Covid-19, 42.3% suffer from irritability: AIIMS study
- The study concluded that children with pre-existing behavioural problems have a high probability of worsening of their behavioural symptoms.
A study by the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) revealed that at least 22.5% of children developed a significant fear of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), while 42.3% suffer from irritability and 30.8% with inattention.
"At least 22.5% of children had a significant fear of Covid-19, and 35.2% and 21.3% of children had boredom and sleep disturbance," said the AIIMS study.
The study named 'Psychological and behavioural impact of lockdown and quarantine measures for Covid-19 pandemic on children, adolescents and caregivers' published in the Journal of Tropical Pediatrics in December 2020 concluded that children with pre-existing behavioural problems have a high probability of worsening of their behavioural symptoms.
It also found that "anxiety, depression, irritability, boredom, inattention and fear of Covid-19 are pre-dominant new-onset psychological problems in children during the Covid-19 pandemic."
"Fifteen studies describing 22,996 children/adolescents fulfilled the eligibility criteria from a total of 219 records. Overall, 34.5%, 41.7%, 42.3% and 30.8% of children were found to be suffering from anxiety, depression, irritability and inattention," the study said.
The pandemic and quarantine negatively affected the behaviour or psychological state of a total of 79.4% of children, the study added.
"Similarly, 52.3% and 27.4% of caregivers developed anxiety and depression, respectively, while being in isolation with children," the study also noted.
Studies performed in the past during epidemics caused by SARS, Ebola virus and Middle-east respiratory syndrome have shown a high prevalence of adverse psychological consequences in both adults and children, according to the study.
It also noted that while children are less likely to be infected with the virus, or if infected will have milder symptoms or remain asymptomatic, they are not immune to the psychological impacts of the pandemic. It said that children as young as two years of age are aware of the changes around them and get affected by them.
A meta-analysis of observational studies in epidemiology and Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were followed for the study.
"Only original articles describing prospective/cross-sectional studies, with/without comparison and control arms, enrolling children up to 18 years and their caregivers were included, only if they have a sample size of 50 or more to provide a true pooled estimate," the study noted while describing the methods and materials of the research.