Babies Given Soy Formula May Face Hormonal Imbalance

Blue-eyed baby being fed formula.

New study suggests that babies whose mothers replaced breast milk with soy formula face subtle hormonal changes that could affect their reproductive system. Researchers said the changes do not pose a health risk, but soy formula should be further researched.

Study authors believe that the imbalance is caused by an estrogen-like compound in soy.

In the study, scientists assessed the hormone levels and the development of the tissue in the reproductive systems of 283 babies. A group was fed breast milk, another group was given soy formula, while a third group was fed on cow’s milk.

The boys were tracked for seven months and girls for 9 months. The study revealed that baby girls who were fed soy formulas had a different reproductive development when compared to girls in the cow-milk group.

In other words, the bodies of the baby girls on soy formula presented markers of estrogen exposure. Also, the uterine volume of those girls decreased at a slower pace than in other girls.

Baby Boys on Soy Formula Were Not Affected

The good news is that soy formula did not trigger any biological changes in boys.

Lead author Dr. Virginia A. Stallings explained that soy formula is packed with estrogen-like ingredients that can affect the hormonal balance.

Also, soy-based formula is usually given to babies in the first six months of life, when they are the most vulnerable. Women who don’t breastfeed use soy-based formula as a healthier alternative to cow-milk formula. Cow’s milk can trigger lactose intolerance and allergies in newborns.

Soy-based formulas are not entirely safe as they contain genistein which acts like the natural feminine hormone called estrogen. It can impact the endocrine system and hamper hormonal development, but few studies have focused on genistein’s impact on the health of babies.

Researchers ‘strongly recommend’ breastfeeding, and so does the American Academy of Pediatrics.
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