Critics suggest that soy formula, because it contains a chemical similar to the female hormone, estrogen, might disrupt normal hormone levels and impair development
In a recent study, a team of researchers conducted telephone interviews with 248 men and women aged 20 to 34 years who were fed soy-based formula as infants. Each of the participants answered questions that attempted to assess "health in young adulthood, with an emphasis on reproductive health."
The group that consumed soy formula was then compared with 563 similarly aged men and women who consumed cow milk-based formula during infancy and answered the same questions.
The only difference between the groups was that women who had been fed soy-based formula reported menstrual bleeding that lasted an average of one third of a day per month longer compared with women in the cow milk-based formula group.
The study relied on the memory of study participants, which may bias their answers.
Infants fed soy-based formula have long-term health outcomes similar to those who are fed cow milk-based formula, the researchers say.
JAMA August 15, 2001;286:807-814
If you can believe a "telephone interview" study funded by the the baby formula industry, then maybe you will believe this nonsense. I know I sure don't. The study was funded in part by the International Formula Council, a trade group that represents manufacturers of infant formula.
Another example of the well-funded edible oil industry slipping their research into the public media. If you have not read Dr. O'Shea's Doors of Perception article please do so, as you will have a better example of how the industry attempts to shift your views.
One of the reasons why this issue is so important is that nearly 20% of infants are fed soy formula, with 750,000 US infants receiving soy formula every year.
There are some MAJOR flaws in the design of this study, but what would you expect from a study that is funded by the Infant Formula industry?
The major problem is that it was a phone survey. Other concerns include
- Some people would not respond
- The study did not address the thyroid
- No medical examinations were performed
- Only reviewed 250 children given soy formula
The authors also intentionally manipulated the statistics by failing to evaluate still-births or pregnancy failures which were higher in the soy group, while evaluating miscarriages which were slightly higher in the milk group.
The lack of any information on dose and time of soy exposure seriously impairs any usefullness of this study. The only time exposure discussed is 16 weeks, which is conrasted to the commonly recognized permanent harm resulting from about six months' exposure in girls and nine months in boys.
It is not only the phytoestrogen levels of soy formula (or soy milk) that are an issue, but the levels of manganese and aluminum in the products.
A soy-fed baby receives the equivalent of five birth control pills' worth of estrogen every day. These babies' isoflavone levels were found to be from 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than in non-soy fed infants.
My comments in February of 2000 are still valid:
Folks, soy formula is one of the worst foods that you could feed your child. Not only does it have profoundly adverse hormonal effects as discussed above, but it also has over 1000% more aluminum than conventional milk based formulas.
I don't recommend either, but if one, for whatever reason, cannot breast feed, then Carnation Good Start until six months and Carnation FollowUp after that seem to be the best commercial formula currently available, although it may not contain taurine, in which case it should be added..
The milk protein is hydrolyzed 80% which tends to significantly decrease its allergenicity. It is also important to note that when breast feeding it is wise to avoid drinking milk as it has been shown for several decades that the milk will pass directly into the breast milk which can cause potential problems in the infant.