Population Research Discovery Seminars
The Effect of COVID Infection on Infant Health: Trends over the Course of the Pandemic
Florencia Torche, School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University
12:30-1:30 PM PT
The SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease has taken a large toll on population health including mortality, morbidity, and long-term disability. Over time, the impact of the virus has evolved as new variants have emerged and vaccines and therapeutic alternatives have become available. We examine the changing impact of COVID infection on infant health, through which the pandemic could have lasting intergenerational effects, considering changes from the onset of the pandemic to December 2022. Using unique population-level data with no selectivity, universal information on maternal infection during pregnancy, and a siblings fixed effects approach, we find a large impact of maternal COVID infection on several measures of infant health. This harmful impact was stronger among socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. The impact was largest in the early months of the pandemic, declined in 2021, and disappeared in 2022. The evidence also suggests a substantial protective effect of vaccination. These findings highlight the need to monitor the changing consequences of COVID infection over time and the importance of vaccination to reduce the burden of infection on vulnerable populations.
Florencia Torche is the Dunlevie Family Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. Her research and writing focus on social inequality and social mobility, educational disparities, and marriage and family dynamics. Her recent scholarship has extensively studied the influence of early-life exposures and circumstances –starting before birth– on individual health, development, and wellbeing using natural experiments and causal inference approaches. Professor Torche is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She currently serves as Deputy Editor of the American Sociological Review, member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Addressing the Long-Term Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children and Families, and member of the Board of Directors of the Population Association of America.