A new study that has many parents alarmed claims that children born during the Covid-19 pandemic have substantially lower IQs on average. However, there are experts who are poking holes in the study, making it potentially as porous as a facial covering.
“In the decade preceding the pandemic, the mean IQ score on standardised tests for children aged between three months and three years of age hovered around 100, but for children born during the pandemic that number tumbled to 78, according to the analysis, which is yet to be peer-reviewed,” the Guardian reported.
“It’s not subtle by any stretch,” said lead study author Sean Deoni, associate professor of paediatrics research at Brown University. “You don’t typically see things like that, outside of major cognitive disorders.”
“The study included 672 children from the state of Rhode Island,” the report notes. “Of these, 188 were born after July 2020 and 308 were born prior to January 2019, while 176 were born between January 2019 and March 2020. The children included in the study were born full-term, had no developmental disabilities and were mostly white.”
The study’s lead author offered an explanation for the concerning findings.
“The biggest reason behind the falling scores is likely the lack of stimulation and interaction at home, said Deoni. “Parents are stressed and frazzled … that interaction the child would normally get has decreased substantially.”
While the report is startling to many parents of children born during the Covid-19 pandemic, there is substantive criticism of the study. One scholar at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, Stuart Richie, critiqued the analysis of the study on Twitter.
“Sorry, but there’s no way the absolutely massive IQ difference in this study is real,” Richie notes. “An average IQ of 100 for kids born before the pandemic compared to an average of 79 during it? No – sorry, just too huge an effect to be plausible. (medrxiv.org/content/10.110…).”
“Indicator that you should be wary of this paper: the authors write in causal terms (‘direct evidence of the developmental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic’), when it’s an observational (non-causal) design,” he continues. “They even use both ‘observational’ and ‘impact of’ in the title.”
“I don’t doubt that all the pandemic control measures could potentially have had some effect on development – but not as big as this!” he added. “Traumatic brain injury patients routinely lose just a fraction of the 21 IQ points described in this paper. There’s a far more plausible explanation for the results in the Discussion section of the paper”:
“So I guess in a sense you could say ‘the pandemic caused it’… but maybe it caused it because people had to wear masks and the kids couldn’t properly understand the questions they were being asked – not because their brains were dramatically less developed!” he added. “(And that’s before we talk about how difficult it is to measure abilities in kids as young as this, how poor a predictor infant ‘IQ’ is of later abilities, and so on. But even grant that it’s a useful measure and study tells us very little).”
“Just adding to this thread since a few people are saying ‘it’s not IQ they’re measuring!’ It’s just the equivalent in infants,” Richie added in response to questioning. “They call it ‘overall cognitive performance’ and measure it on the IQ scale (mean 100, standard deviation 15). So it’s intended to be the same thing. Plus, it’s being discussed in the media in those very terms.”
Whether or not the 2o-plus IQ drop being reported by the study is real or a phantom of erroneous study design, the Covid pandemic is leading to a crisis in education, especially as teachers unions and many Democratic elected officials appear set to keep children in masks during the pandemic.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an editorial that lays out the many serious adverse effects that children experience from wearing masks. It was written by Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Dr. H. Cody Meissner, who is the chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Tufts Children’s Hospital and served on the Food and Drug Administration’s external advisory panel for the Covid-19 vaccines.
“Do masks reduce Covid transmission in children?” the authors ask. “Believe it or not, we could find only a single retrospective study on the question, and its results were inconclusive. Yet two weeks ago the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sternly decreed that 56 million U.S. children and adolescents, vaccinated or not, should cover their faces regardless of the prevalence of infection in their community.”
The authors discuss the risk of Covid to children, which has been discussed elsewhere is extremely low.
“What about the risk of Covid, which mask mandates are intended to ameliorate?” the authors also asked. “The CDC reports that for the week of July 31 the rate of hospitalization with Covid for children 5 to 17 was 0.5 per 100,000, which would amount to roughly 250 patients.”
While many are concerned that the Delta variant may lead to a repeat situation for the country, it has proven to be far less dangerous than the first wave of COVID for all demographics. Mask mandates do not appear to have an appreciable effect on COVID-related case rates or death rates. A recent CDC study showed they have 0.9%-1.9% effect on case rates if used for 100 days. This is miniscule, and in regards to children, statistically inconsequential. The damage to their mental health due to increased anxiety and depression, however, appears to be significant.