The effect of subclinical infantile thiamine deficiency on motor function in preschool children

Yael Harel, Luba Zuk, Michal Guindy, Orly Nakar, Dafna Lotan, Aviva Fattal-Valevski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We investigated the long-term implications of infantile thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency on motor function in preschoolers who had been fed during the first 2 years of life with a faulty milk substitute. In this retrospective cohort study, 39 children aged 5–6 years who had been exposed to a thiamine-deficient formula during infancy were compared with 30 age-matched healthy children with unremarkable infant nutritional history. The motor function of the participants was evaluated with The Movement Assessment Battery for Children (M-ABC) and the Zuk Assessment. Both evaluation tools revealed statistically significant differences between the exposed and unexposed groups for gross and fine motor development (p <.001, ball skills p =.01) and grapho-motor development (p =.004). The differences were especially noteworthy on M-ABC testing for balance control functioning (p <.001, OR 5.4; 95% CI 3.4–7.4) and fine motor skills (p <.001, OR 3.2; 95% CI 1.8–4.6). In the exposed group, both assessments concurred on the high rate of children exhibiting motor function difficulties in comparison to unexposed group (M-ABC: 56% vs. 10%, Zuk Assessment: 59% vs. 3%, p <.001). Thiamine deficiency in infancy has long-term implications on gross and fine motor function and balance skills in childhood, thiamine having a crucial role in normal motor development. The study emphasizes the importance of proper infant feeding and regulatory control of breast milk substitutes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12397
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • balance skills
  • infant nutrition
  • motor difficulties
  • preschool children
  • thiamin
  • thiamine deficiency


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