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Impacts of COVID-19 on Mother-Infant Outcomes

This event was held on March 18, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

On March 18th, ECFC and Einhorn Collaborative hosted a discussion with Dr. Dani Dumitriu, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University, Irving Medical Center, to share findings of the COVID-19 Mother Baby Outcomes (COMBO) Study,  a research initiative launched in Spring of 2020, in response to overwhelming interest in mother-infant health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COMBO initiative enrolled over 500 women in 2020 who are/were pregnant during the pandemic in NYC, with the goal of understanding COVID-19 outcomes for babies and their mothers, including but not limited to: vertical transmission rates, maternal mental health, maternal olfaction, maternal cognition, changes in socioeconomic status, breastfeeding, infant health, infant neurodevelopment, infant brain development, infant risk of autism, and much more.

Most importantly, COMBO is highly focused on the mother-infant pair as a unit, recognizing that the health of one member of the pair is intrinsically related to that of the other and theorizing that this pandemic, by virtue of numerous changes in social structure including widening social inequality gaps and necessitated prolonged social distancing, is particularly likely to affect the formation of the mother-infant emotional connection, a necessary ingredient in optimal child development.

With the oldest enrolled babies now nearly a year old, COMBO is already beginning to identify numerous troubling negative health impacts in this population in areas of growth, breastfeeding rates, neurodevelopment, and mother-infant normal interactions.  Given the prolonged nature of this pandemic, these effects could have devastating effects on future generations.

Event Takeaways

On this webinar we learned more about preliminary study findings of the COMBO Study, and considered how philanthropy might respond to these findings which will affect all of the families we seek to serve.   In our funder-only conversation following the COMBO presentation (not included in the recording), three possible actions for the philanthropic community emerged:

  1. Building an early childhood funders research agenda – whether collaboratively funded or just a north-start guide – around understanding the effects of COVID-19 on families and ways to ameliorate those effects.
  2. Investing in a series of intervention trials testing multiple tools and programs for supporting parent-child dyads.
  3. Funding the translation of research findings into “plain language” to share with advocates, offer to programs serving families, and deliver directly to families.

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