Kids suffering from ‘social malnutrition’ during pandemic, pediatricians warn – CBC

Loss of normal socialization could have lasting effect on young minds and bodies

May 10, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic is starving our children of the activities and social interaction they need to develop into healthy adults, and some experts worry that could have a lasting impact.

There’s even a name for it: ‘”Social malnutrition,” a term recently coined by Vaughan, Ont., pediatrician Saba Merchant, refers to the long-term damage that lack of normal socialization is having on our kids’ physical and mental health.

According to Dr. Kelley Zwicker, founder of the Ottawa Community Pediatricians Network, the symptoms can include “behavioural challenges in younger children, lots of temper tantrums and outbursts. In older kids, there’s a lot of mood dysregulation, anxiety [and] depression.”

Zwicker told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning pediatricians are even worried about the pandemic’s potential impact on the cognitive development of younger children.

“Part of learning speech, for example, is to see how other people talk and how their lips move,” she said. “All the masks that we’re wearing might be affecting that.”

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