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Mendez, Michelle A.; Anthony, Mary S.; & Arab, Lenore (2002). Soy-Based Formulae and Infant Growth and Development: A Review. Journal of Nutrition, 132(8), 2127-2130.


Soy-based infant formulae, initially developed for infants who were lactose intolerant or allergic to cow’s milk–based formulae, now account for >25% of the infant formulae sold in the United States. Formulations have changed over the years to improve digestibility, the stability and availability of minerals, and protein quality. Recent concerns have been raised regarding the phytoestrogenic isoflavone content of soy-based formulae. A systematic review of the literature was conducted to evaluate various measures of infant health and development in clinical studies comparing modern soy-based formulae with other diets and to document areas in which further research seems warranted. Results suggest that modern soy-based formulae support normal growth and nutritional status in healthy term infants in y 1 of life. However, there are very limited data on sexual and reproductive development or outcomes such as immune function, visual acuity/cognitive development and thyroid function. Available data do not provide evidence of meaningful differences in timing of maturation, sexual development or fertility in adolescents or adults. Nonetheless, given evidence suggesting that early exposure to soy and/or isoflavones might have long-term effects, further research following infants fed soy-based formulae into adulthood is warranted.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Nutrition


Mendez, Michelle A.
Anthony, Mary S.
Arab, Lenore