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Early-Life Soy Exposure and Gender-Role Play Behavior in Children


Adgent, Margaret A.; Daniels, Julie L.; Edwards, Lloyd J.; Siega-Riz, Anna Maria; & Rogan, Walter J. (2011). Early-Life Soy Exposure and Gender-Role Play Behavior in Children. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119(12), 1811-1816. PMCID: PMC3261982


Background: Soy-based infant formula contains high levels of isoflavones. These estrogen-like compounds have been shown to induce changes in sexually dimorphic behaviors in animals exposed in early development.
Objective: We examined gender-role play behavior in relation to soy and non-soy based infant feeding methods among children in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.
Methods: We studied 3,664 boys and 3,412 girls. Exposure categories were created using questionnaires administered at 6 and 15 months postpartum: primarily breast, early formula (referent), early soy, and late soy. Gender-role play behavior was assessed using the Preschool Activities Inventory (PSAI). Associations between infant feeding and PSAI scores at 42 months of age were assessed using linear regression. Post hoc analyses of PSAI scores at 30 and 57 months were also conducted.
Results: Early infancy soy use was reported for approximately 2% of participants. Mean (95% confidence interval (CI)) PSAI scores at 42 months were 62.3 (62.0, 62.6) and 36.9 (36.6, 37.2) for boys and girls, respectively. After adjustment, early soy (versus early formula) feeding was associated with higher (more masculine) PSAI scores in girls (


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Environmental Health Perspectives


Adgent, Margaret A.
Daniels, Julie L.
Edwards, Lloyd J.
Siega-Riz, Anna Maria
Rogan, Walter J.