COVID-19 & ACEs: Adverse childhood experiences –– ACES –– are traumatic events that occur to kids before the age of eighteen that can have lasting impacts into adulthood on health and well-being, and Habor-UCLA Medical Center pediatric intern Christina Santiago analyzes how the COVID-19 pandemic may be contributing to ACEs in an op-ed for California Health Report. As kids struggle with the loss of going to school, socialization and free school lunches, they may also be struggling with abuse at home that goes unreported due to lack of outside oversight. Earlier in the pandemic, reports of child abuse were down by 50%, including 40,000 fewer children receiving services related to abuse than the year before. Anecdotally, however, emergency room doctors have reported seeing more severe cases of abuse, leading her to wonder if many cases are going unreported by educators and social workers who would otherwise be screening and reporting less severe cases of trauma in kids. Additionally, The Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network reported a 22% increase in hotline calls at the start of the pandemic, with 1 out of 5 of the callers living with their abuser. Working in a hospital herself, Santiago shares that the majority of the cases she sees each day are related to distress –– whether that be from abuse or simply the trauma that the stressful nature of the pandemic is causing in kids.
Global Warming Impact on Pregnancies: Researchers are warning that global warming could increase rates of serious pregnancy problems such as pre-term births, low-weight births or stillbirths, as reported by U.S. News & World Report. After analyzing 70 studies from 27 countries, researchers found an association between high temperatures and negative birth outcomes. Of the 47 studies that assessed preterm births, the average rate was 5.6%, much lower than the global average of about 10%. Forty of the studies found that preterm births were more common at higher than lower temperatures. The risk of preterm birth rose, on average, by 5% per 1.8° F increase in temperature and by 16% during heat waves versus on non-heat wave days. However, outcomes did appear to fluctuate between certain socioeconomic class, with low- and middle-income pregnancy being more vulnerable to heat exposure during the nine months of pregnancy, as reported by Science Alert. The research underscores the need to take pregnant women into account as a vulnerable group when considering policy around climate change.
COVID-19 Antibodies in Kids: While children generally clear the COVID-19 virus faster than adults, they also appear to produce weaker antibodies, according to new research and as reported by The New York Times. Some studies suggest that a stronger immune-response may be to blame for people who become severely ill from the virus, so paradoxically, a weaker immune response in kids means they experience less severe symptoms and may also explain why they appear to spread the virus less easily than adults. In another article, The New York Times also breaks down how antibodies work in kids, explaining that fewer antibodies mean the virus was in their system for a shorter period of time. Some experts urge caution when interpreting the results, however, since the study was small and collected data from only a short period of time. Some children do become severely ill with an inflammatory response after contracting COVID-19, however, and another group of researchers is examining why by looking into the gene structure of kids with severe COVID-19, as reported by Medical Xpress. The research could shed light on how the immune system works and why some kids (and adults) experience more severe symptoms.