Missed Opportunities and the Impact of the Pandemic.

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DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000001065; PMCID: PMC9203908


CASE: Benjamin is a 9-month-old, former 36-week gestation infant who presented to the high-risk infant follow-up clinic with parental concern for developmental regression. His mother reported that Benjamin seemed to be developing typically, but over the past 2 months, he has lost the ability to visually track objects, is not as engaged with her as he once was, and now only rarely makes babbling sounds. His mother also reported episodes of intermittent "bursts" of stiffening of his extremities and brief staring spells. Benjamin's mother described him as a "good, quiet baby." She commented that he used to laugh and cry more frequently but has recently been "very peaceful and calm." Benjamin's mother recently relayed her concerns for developmental regression to his pediatrician during an audio-only telehealth visit. Benjamin was referred to a pediatric neurologist, and the consultation visit is pending.His mother is a 28-year-old single parent whose pregnancy was complicated by pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and anxiety. Benjamin required admission to the neonatal intensive care unit because of initial feeding difficulties. After 1 week, Benjamin was discharged to home and was referred for early intervention services. Owing to the pandemic, there were delays with initiating intervention, but bimonthly virtual interaction with a representative from the infant development program was eventually provided.Benjamin's mother expressed significant concerns regarding the potential of exposing him to a pandemic-related illness because of bringing her son to in-person medical visits. In fact, because of her concerns, she attended only virtual well-child pediatric visits over the past 6 months. A thorough social history revealed that she is a former dance studio instructor. The studio closed and she lost her primary source of income because of the pandemic. As a result, she decided to not send Benjamin to child care and maintained isolation from extended family members.On physical examination, pertinent findings included poor truncal tone, lack of orientation toward sounds, and limited eye contact. The Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development-Third Edition (Bayley-III) was administered, and the results indicated severe delays across all developmental areas, consistent with a diagnosis of global developmental delay.Benjamin's clinical presentation to the HRIF clinic and a history of developmental regression and intermittent body movements raised concerns for infantile spasms. He was transferred to the emergency department for evaluation and consideration for admission to the neurology service. An electroencephalogram confirmed epileptiform abnormalities consistent with infantile spasms, and he was immediately started on treatment.Impacts of the pandemic on the medical care of vulnerable/at-risk pediatric patients have included delayed receipt of early intervention services, parental fear regarding potential exposure to pandemic-related illness while seeking preventative care, increased use of virtual visit platforms for medical care and developmental intervention services, etc. What factors should be considered when providing support for these vulnerable/at-risk patients?

Journal Title

Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP





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MeSH Keywords

Adult; Anxiety; Child; Female; Humans; Infant; Infant, Newborn; Male; Mothers; Pandemics; Spasms, Infantile


Anxiety; Mothers; Pandemics; Infantile Spasms

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