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Editor’s note: Here’s an excerpt from an article in The BMJ. To read the piece in its entirety, click here.

Children born during the pandemic score markedly lower on standard measures of verbal, motor and overall cognitive ability, U.S. researchers have found.

In a longitudinal study of 672 children from Rhode Island that has run since 2011, those born after the pandemic began showed results on the Mullen scales of early learning that corresponded to an average IQ score of 78, a drop of 22 points from the average of previous cohorts.

The study, which was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is awaiting peer review before publication in JAMA Pediatrics. But a preprint copy is available online.

The researchers have largely ruled out a direct effect of the virus, as mothers or children with a history of testing positive for COVID-19 were excluded from the analysis. Instead, the authors say, reduced interaction with parents and less outdoor exercise are likely culprits, along with effects that occurred during pregnancy.

Read the entire The BMJ article here.