Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Little Rock, Arkansas » Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #297607

Title: Effects of soy infant formula on growth and development in the first year of life

item Badger, Thomas - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)

Submitted to: Food and Nutrition Bulletin
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/15/2013
Publication Date: 6/1/2013
Citation: Badger, T.M. 2013. Effects of soy infant formula on growth and development in the first year of life. Food and Nutrition Bulletin. 34(2):252-253.

Interpretive Summary: Protein quality is a central issue to the development of an infant formula. Infant formula composition is basically patterned as closely as possible to breast milk, and breast feeding is the recommended "food" for infants. Milk formula is made with cow milk protein (an animal protein); whereas, soy formula is made from protein extracted from soy beans (a plant protein). The Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, is conducting a study comparing growth, development, body composition, and brain function of breast-fed, milk formula-fed, and soy formula-fed infants. During the first year of life, researchers found that child development in all three diet groups was within the normal range, and there were no differences between milk formula and soy formula. These results suggest that child growth and development with soy protein do not differ from that of milk protein.

Technical Abstract: The exposure of infants to potential estrogenic isoflavones has made the use of soy formula somewhat controversial. Thus, it is important to determine the long-term health consequences of feeding soy formula to infants. The Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center is conducting a nonrandomized, longitudinal study (the Beginnings Study) of breastfed (BF, n = 200), bovine milk formula-fed (MF, n = 200), or soy formula-fed (SF, n = 200) children from 2 months through 6 years of age to study metabolic programming, growth, and developmental outcomes. Preliminary data are available so far for 391 children (131 BF, 131 MF, and 129 SF) studied at ages 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. The preliminary findings suggest that growth, development, and brain function of infants in all three diet groups were within the normal ranges for the first year of life. No significant differences were found between MF and SF infants in any measure.