The Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation in Infancy on Gross Motor Development

Baby with vitamin
Researchers assessed whether vitamin D intake in infants and season-at-birth had an effect on gross motor development in early childhood.

Vitamin D dosage in infancy does not overtly impact gross motor development of children at 3 years of age, according to a study published in Early Human Development.

Recent studies have indicated maternal and child vitamin D status can influence gross motor development, yet studies on the effects of early vitamin D interventions on childhood development have mixed results. Only 1 randomized trial examined maternal vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women, which began at 24 weeks, according to researchers. For this study, the researchers evaluated gross motor development at 3 years with the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales-2 (PDMS-2) among healthy children with varying supplemental vitamin D doses across infancy.

A total of 116 healthy infants who were breastfeeding, from families with high socioeconomic status and predominantly White mothers, were randomized at 1 month to receive 400 (standard-of-care), 800, or 1200 IU of oral vitamin D3 daily for 11 months. They were followed up until 3 years of age.

The 800 IU/d group tended to have lower birth weight compared with the 400 IU/d dosage group. The 1200 IU/d group tended to have higher plasma 25OHD3 compared with the 400 IU/d group from 3 to 12 months. At 3 months, the 800 IU/d tended to have higher plasma 25OHD3 compared with the 400 IU/d group.

At 3 years, differences among children were not evident and the groups had similar vitamin D intake.

Children with summer/fall births tended to have higher gestational age (P =.02) and higher mean percent body fat (P =.03) compared with children born in the winter/spring.

Nearly all (94%) of children at 3 years had a gross motor quotient (GMQ) of at least 85 (range 83 to 111). The 1200 IU/d group tended to have higher object manipulation percentile and standardized score (P =.04) compared with the 400 IU/d group without interaction with season-at-birth. Children born in the winter/spring who had 1200 IU/d were more active compared with infants born in summer/fall and they had higher GMQ scores and stationary subtest scores compared with those born in the winter/spring with other vitamin D intake levels.

“Overall, GMQ was within expected ranges and reinforces that the currently recommended 400 IU/d of vitamin D for healthy term born infants adequately supports [gross motor development],” the researchers concluded.

Study limitations included a small sample, lack of generalization to infants with lower vitamin D status or premature birth, and limited availability of 250HD among participants across the study.

Disclosure: This research was supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Nutricia Research Foundation, and Euro-Pharm International, Canada Inc.


Weiler HA, Hazell TJ, Majnemer A, et al. Vitamin D supplementation and gross motor development: a 3-year follow-up of a randomized trial. Early Human Development. Published online June 22, 2022. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2022.105615