Adult vaccination rates and socioeconomic factors impacted children’s mental health during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online April 27 in JAMA Psychiatry.
Yunyu Xiao, Ph.D., from NewYork-Presbyterian in New York City, and colleagues estimated the association of trajectories of child mental health to multilevel social determinants of health (SDoH) and vaccination eligibility/rates. The analysis included data from 8,493 children participating in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development cohort (May 16, 2020, to March 2, 2021).
The researchers found that trajectories of stress, sadness, and COVID-19-related worry decreased after adult vaccination rollout. Children who reported significantly greater perceived stress included those of older age (12 to 15 years), girls, Hispanic children, children living with separated parents, children experiencing disrupted medical health care access, children living in economically deprived neighborhoods, children living in areas with more full-time working-class adults who were unable to social distance, and children living in states with fewer fully vaccinated adults. Asian children, Black children, children of other/multiracial ethnicity, and children with disrupted medical or mental health care experienced higher COVID-19 pandemic-related worry. Increased sadness was seen with the inability to afford food.
“Supporting children’s mental health requires multifaceted policies that address SDoH and structural barriers to food, health services, employment protection, and vaccination,” the authors write.