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(LifeSiteNews) – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) still has not restored to its website a document affirming the importance of babies seeing human faces and communicating with parents via their own facial expressions, despite claiming more than three months ago the removal was merely a temporary byproduct of web maintenance.

“By the time babies are 6 to 8 weeks old, they may smile back when they see a face,” reads the Face Time and Emotional Health brochure (archived here). “These ‘social smiles’ are both fun and important. Make time for ‘face time’! That means taking time to smile at your baby’s face and to return a smile whenever your baby smiles.”

“If your child learns early in life that he can easily get your attention by smiling or cooing or being happy, he will keep it up,” it adds. “But if you do not make time for face time, he may give up on smiling and try more fussing, crying and screaming to get the attention he needs.”

In August, observers began noticing that the brochure no longer appeared on AAP’s website, prompting speculation that it may have been intentionally scrubbed so as not to undermine the organization’s support of mandatory masking for children as young as two. Many two-year-olds are still in diapers.

On August 21, an AAP staffer told Just the News that the brochure’s disappearance was nothing more than a side effect of a “large migration of content on our website to a new platform, a bulk of which took place this past weekend,” and that “[s]ome content areas, including Early Brain and Child Development, are still being organized before they go live on the new platform.”

As of December 6, however, the document still has not been restored to AAP’s website. The group has not responded to LifeSite’s request for comment.

Elsewhere on the site, AAP still acknowledges that the social smile is “an important part of a baby’s social and emotional development,” while at the same time claiming “there is no known evidence that use of face masks interferes with speech and language development or social communication,” and that “face time at home with mask-free family members” is sufficient.

Available evidence suggests that masks played little, if any, in reducing COVID-19’s spread across the United States. In May, a study found that, though mandates effectively resulted in higher levels of mask wearing, “mask mandates and use (were) not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among U.S. states” from March 2020 to March 2021. 

In fact, the researchers found the results to be a net negative, with masks increasing “dehydration … headaches and sweating and decrease cognitive precision,” and interfering with communication, as well as impairing social learning among children.

“The potential educational harms of mandatory-masking policies are much more firmly established, at least at this point, than their possible benefits in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in schools,” says University of California-San Francisco epidemiologist Professor Vinay Prasad. “Early childhood is a crucial period when humans develop cultural, language, and social skills, including the ability to detect emotion on other people’s faces. Social interactions with friends, parents, and caregivers are integral to fostering children’s growth and well-being.”