Social and mental stressors associated with the pandemic of a novel infectious disease, e.g., COVID-19 or SARS may promote long-term effects on child development. However, reports aimed at identifying the relationship between pandemics and child health are limited. A retrospective study was conducted to associate the SARS pandemic in 2003 with development milestones or physical examinations among longitudinal measurements of 14,647 children. Experiencing SARS during childhood was associated with delayed milestones, with hazard ratios of 3.17 (95% confidence intervals CI: 2.71, 3.70), 3.98 (3.50, 4.53), 4.96 (4.48, 5.49), or 5.57 (5.00, 6.20) for walking independently, saying a complete sentence, counting 0–10, and undressing him/herself for urination, respectively. These results suggest relevant impacts from COVID-19 on child development should be investigated.


This is the publisher's version of Fan, Y., Wang, H., Wu, Q. et al. SARS pandemic exposure impaired early childhood development in China. Sci Rep 11, 8694 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-87875-8

Date of this Version