Cambridge, UK COVGEN Team
(Center for Brain and Cognitive Development)

Sarah Lloyd Fox

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Principal Investigator
University of Cambridge

Ezra Aydin

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Post-doctoral Research Associate
Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Mark Johnson

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Principal Investigator
University of Cambridge

Staci Meredith Weiss

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Post-doctoral Research Associate
University of Cambridge

Our Hub

The shifts in socialization, stress and socio-economic position associated with the dynamic COVID-19 public health guidance may be acutely felt by expectant and new parents, as the public health crisis may exacerbate the feelings of vulnerability, health vigilance and isolation associated with the adjustment to parenting. To mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, the government issued lockdown statues which restricted indoor household mixing for longer than 9 months from March 2020 to May 2021, with no exceptions for new parents until December 2020. In a sample of more than 2,000 parents from the UK and beyond, the CoCoPIP study examined physical indicators along with self-reports of parental stress, health, and psychological impact, and parent-reports of infant temperament and sensory profile. Results indicate that expected and new parents were affected by the lack of access to social, medical support, particularly in the absence of face-to-face antenatal and NCT group classes, infants experienced a more limited exposure to a variety of faces and families reported finding new rhythms despite the lack of social interaction during lockdown. Analyses found infants born in lockdown did not differ in caregiving quality from those born pre-pandemic, but the timing of their birth did change their responsiveness, with infants found to be less responsive to social input when they were born amidst lockdowns 2 and 3, although this was explained fully by reduced social exposure. However, infant responsiveness was not associated with maternal well-being, so mothers experiencing exacerbated stress amidst the pandemic did not report infants with different sensory profiles.

Funding