Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Risks to children during covid-19 pandemic

Risks to Bangladeshi children and young people during covid-19 outbreak

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: (Published 11 June 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m2299
  1. Md Sazedur Rahman, researcher1,
  2. Zohra S Lassi, research fellow2,
  3. Sheikh Mohammad Shariful Islam, senior research fellow3
  1. 1Statistics Discipline, Khulna University, Khulna-9208, Bangladesh
  2. 2Robinson Research Institute, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
  3. 3Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. sazedur.stat{at}

Children and young people are at higher risk of adverse health outcomes including obesity, neglect, and abuse by parents, and thus are more prone to mental health and chronic health issues during the covid-19 pandemic.1

The current lockdown situation has led children and young people into a sedentary lifestyle, which might increase the incidence of obesity and other chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and some types of cancer.2 The economic shutdown threatens millions of people. Family violence can also increase during restrictions because of financial crises, which further increases the risk of child abuse.3 The lack of social contact, loss of income of parents, continuous media coverage, and anxiety of uncertainty related to the covid-19 outbreak might have adverse psychological effects leading to post-traumatic stress disorder.34 The long term closure of educational institutions might adversely affect learning.

The prevalence of undernutrition among Bangladeshi children is higher than in other developing countries5 and could rise if there is a food crisis. Child labour is common in Bangladesh,6 and these children cannot earn to support their families in the pandemic. Moreover, many children in Bangladesh are homeless, living on the street and in rail stations, making them more vulnerable to infection. Child labourers and street children are already abused and neglected, and covid-19 might have a severe impact on their daily life and physical and mental health. Unemployed young people are also at higher risk of engaging in crime, drug addiction, and mental disorders.

Children and young people in Bangladesh are concerned about the emotional and physical effects of the covid-19 outbreak. Community based programmes and strategies are needed to reduce the risk of adverse outcomes.



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