No ‘Evidence of Benefit’ From Masking Children: Multiple Study Review (BMJ)

Wearing face masks to counter COVID-19 provides no significant protective benefit to children, with kids facing potential developmental challenges from masking, according to a recent review of multiple studies.

The 2023 review, published in the BMJ Journal on Dec. 2, investigated the effectiveness of wearing face masks in children during COVID-19. Out of the 22 studies analyzed, 16 reported “no effect of mask wearing on infection or transmission.” While the remaining six found a protective association between mask wearing and transmission, these studies had a “critical or serious risk of bias.” Overall, “we fail to find any evidence of benefit from masking children, to either protect themselves or those around them, from COVID-19,” it stated.

A Spanish study of nearly 600,000 children failed to find any significant difference in the number of infections between the masked and unmasked, the review said. Another study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found no “significant association” between mask mandates for children and pediatric COVID-19 cases.

Hospitalization and mortality rates among unmasked kids were also on the lower side. In Sweden, only 15 kids from almost 2 million were hospitalized in spring 2020 despite schools not requiring face masks. No child died from COVID-19.

In Finland, no child death was reported even though none of the children below the age of 10–12 years wore masks. Some cities mandated children 12 and over to wear masks, and other cities mandated children 10 and over to wear masks.

In New York public schools with one million students under enrollment, the transmission rate during the Delta variant period was estimated to be only 0.5 percent.

Harming Children

While there were no significant benefits in terms of transmission, hospitalization, and death rates among mask wearers, other reports revealed a worrying factor—harms to masked children.

“An extensive body of research has found harms associated with mask wearing or mask requirements in children. These associated harms include negative impacts on speech, language, and learning. Mask wearing causes reduced word identification and impedes the ability to teach and evaluate speech,” the review said. “There is a link between observation of the mouth and language processing, and people of all ages continue to focus on the mouth when listening to non-native speech. The sensitive period for language development is through age 4, and development of connected speech is ongoing beyond age 10.”

Masks may have negatively impacted the mental health and social-emotional well-being of children—especially among younger kids—by restricting the ability to interpret emotions accurately.

Children with special education needs and autism may be “disproportionately impacted” due to masking mandates as they heavily rely on facial expressions to pick up social cues.

“Misinterpretation of facial expressions increases anxiety and depression in individuals. School environments with mask mandates were also found to have increased anxiety levels compared to those without mandates,” the review stated.

Psychological harm from masking could lead to reduced learning capacity and additional sick days among children, it said.

The review pointed out that in medicine, any intervention without unknown benefits but potential risks cannot be recommended unless an absence of harm is demonstrated.

“Child mask mandates fail a basic risk-benefit analysis. Recommending child masking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is unsupported by current scientific data and inconsistent with accepted ethical norms that aim to provide additional protection from harm for vulnerable populations,” the review said.

Multiple studies have shown that face masks result in harm among children. A 2021 study from Germany analyzed the mask-wearing experience of 25,930 children who on average wore masks 4.5 hours per day.

Sixty-eight percent of parents reported that masking harmed their child. Some of the reported harms include headaches, malaise, irritability, drowsiness or fatigue, difficulty concentrating, impaired learning, and less happiness.

“We should always ask ‘At what cost?’ when considering any policy,” said Dr. Jeffrey I. Barke, a board-certified primary care physician in private practice in Southern California.

“The masking of children causes direct harm, including increased anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and learning disorders. And most importantly, it prevents the critical bonding between students and teachers because facial expressions aren’t able to be seen,” he said.

Insistence of the CDC

Despite studies showing harm to children, the CDC continues to advise face masks for kids aged two years and above, under certain circumstances, “to protect themselves and others from COVID-19,” according to a May 11 update.

According to the CDC, masking is needed in counties where COVID-19 hospitalization admissions are “high.” In areas where admissions are “medium or high,” the CDC recommends masking if the individual is at “high risk for getting very sick.”

“Choose a high-quality and comfortable mask or respirator that your child can wear properly. A poorly fitting or uncomfortable mask or respirator might be worn incorrectly or removed often, and that would reduce its intended benefits,” it says.

The Epoch Times reached out to the CDC for comment.

There have also been accusations of political maneuvers in research related to childhood masking. In June 2021, a study published in JAMA Pediatrics contended that children wearing face masks were inhaling carbon dioxide levels “deemed unacceptable by the German Federal Environmental Office by a factor of 6.”

JAMA Pediatrics pulled the paper citing “numerous scientific issues,” including concerns about study methodology and whether proper devices were used in measuring carbon dioxide levels.

In a statement to Just the News, Harald Walach, author of the study, pointed out that the retraction notice used “potential public health implications” as a “key phrase.” This suggested that “the retraction was political, because some people did not like our data.”

In a written response to comments on the study, Mr. Walach and colleagues defended the conclusions of their study.

“Facts are not constituted by single studies, but by multiple replications and discourse,” they wrote. “This is the first peer-reviewed study of carbon dioxide content under face masks in children in a short measurement set-up. The measurements, we contend, are valid and were conducted by individuals with high content expertise.”

“If someone doubts our results, the way to go is not to claim they are wrong without proof, but to produce better and different results.”

Reposted from: https://www.theepochtimes.com/health/no-evidence-of-benefit-from-masking-children-multiple-study-review-5542168

Read More: Face Mask series

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