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Scientists Study Soy Infant
Formula By Jim
January 6, 2004
The Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center (ACNC) in Little Rock, Ark., has been
conducting a six-year study that began September 2002 to investigate the
effects of soy-based infant formula compared with formulas made from human
breast milk or cow's milk. The Agricultural
Research Service, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency, is funding the research.
Some researchers have reported that consuming soy-based formula
could accelerate puberty and cause developmental and reproductive abnormalities
and thyroid disorders later in life. Critics suggest that isoflavones in soy
formula might disrupt or impair development in infants because it's believed
they may act similarly to the female hormone estrogen.
However, based on previous ACNC findings, Thomas M. Badger, ACNC
director, suspects that soy isoflavones don't act like female hormones in
infants. Previous studies at the center and elsewhere found no apparent
long-term positive or negative effects of feeding infants soy versus cow's milk
In rat studies, Badger and his team found the animals grew and
developed normally except for very minor differences that have not been found
in humans. There were no adverse effects, but many healthful ones.
They also found that diets containing soy proteins boost the
activity of certain enzymes that help remove harmful toxins from the body. This
can actually remove from the body substances that cause disease, such as
However, the ACNC studies did show that soy consumption changed
certain enzymes in the liver, gut and other organs that break down many
medications taken by people and animals. That could affect how the drugs are
used by the body. Researchers are further studying this by comparing infants
who are fed soy formula with those who are breast fed or who receive cow's milk
about this research in the January 2004 issue of Agricultural Research