Soy infant formula - Is it the BEST choice

Created: December 12, 2014. - Reviewed: January 14, 2017.

Is soy infant formula the best choice for a baby? Or is it a way to disguish symptoms associated with an underlying problem. 

Soy infant formula - Is it the BEST choice
Rowena Bennett

Rowena Bennett

  • Registered Nurse
  • Registered Midwife
  • Child Health Nurse
  • Mental Health Nurse

Rowena over 20 years experience assisting parents to resolve well baby care problems.


View Profile

Mounting concerns regarding soy infant formula


Originally designed to be used by the estimated 1 - 2% of children who are allergic to cow's milk proteins, it is now estimated that approximately 25% of North American babies receive infant formula made from processed soybeans. The increase in popularity over past decades has been credited to clever marketing of the professed benefits of soy products by soy producers.


Soy infant formulas have been given to infants for over 40 years. During this time millions of babies have been reared on soy infant formulas without major health problems. However, with an increase in independent research in recent years there is concerning, yet conflicting evidence, emerging regarding potentially harmful effects of phytoestrogens on humans. (Phytoestrogens are chemicals found in soy products, including soy infant formulas, which act like the female hormone 'estrogen'.)


Past studies have suggested that early exposure to soy may help to prevent cancer and heart disease. Against this generally positive view there are an increasing number of recent reports that suggest that in experimental animals phytoestrogens have harmful effects with respect to carcinogenesis, reproductive function, immune function and thyroid disease.


Despite these and other findings there appears to be an absence of adequate scientific research that conclusively links harmful effects of using soy based products on humans.


Health authorities in countries such as the USA, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia and the UK have assessed the potential risks associated with exposing infants to soy products based on CURRENT research and have issued guidelines for the appropriate use of soy infant formulas in infant feeding.


These guidelines, which are similar in all of these countries, encourage parents to use soy infant formula ONLY when advised to do so by their health care provider . Some child advocacy groups in New Zealand and Canada have taken this a step further and are lobbying to have soy infant formula removed from general availability and made available ONLY with a doctor's prescription.

WWW articles DISCOURAGING soy infant formula without medical cause


Experts Dispute Soy Formula Safety

Phytoestrogens in Diets of Infants and Adults
The Weston A. Price Foundation, Washington. USA

Soy Infant Formula - Better than breastmilk?
The Weston A. Price Foundation, Washington. USA

Exposure of infants to phyto-estrogens from soy-based infant formula.
Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, USA.

Health Canada Exposing Babies to Serious Risk.
Canadian Health Coalition.

Soy concerns mounting.
Infant Feeding and Action Coalition (INFACT), Canada.

Policy Statement of Royal College of Australian Physicians.

Soy Formulas and the Effects of Isoflavones on the Thyroid.
Dr. Mike Fitzpatrick, toxicologist, New Zealand.

Soy Formula Can Reduce Testosterone levels.
Dr. Richard Sharpe, Medical Research Council Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, Edinburgh, UK.

Soy Based Formula.
Advice from the UK Department of Health.

Written by Rowena Bennett

Make an informed choice!


The purpose of this article is simply to bring this information to your attention, to enable you can make an informed choice as to the BEST infant formula for your baby.

We have attempted to maintain a balanced perspective on this topic and have provided links to WWW articles that SUPPORT and DISCOURAGE the use of soy infant formula.  (You may notice that we have deliberately NOT included links to any articles produced by formula manufacturers or others with vested interests in the soy industry.)

Below is only a tiny sample of the numerous articles we found on the Web regarding soy infant formula and the effects of phytoestrogens. You may prefer to do your own search.

WWW articles SUPPORTING soy infant formula


Soy: Health Claims for Soy Protein, Questions About Other Components .
US Food and Drug Administration.

Soy Protein-based Formulas: Recommendations for Use in Infant Feeding
American Academy of Pediatrics. USA

Are there any long term health implications for infants using soy formula?
The Florida Department of Health, USA.

Congratulations. It's a soy!
Research at Penn. USA

Scientists Study Soy Infant Formula.
The Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center. USA

Why soy formula appears to help


Soy infant formula is at times recommended when a baby suffers from gastro-intestinal symptoms such as diarrhe, bloating, gassiness, abdominal discomfort suspected of being caused by milk protein allergy or intolerance. Symptoms might be relieved but its more likely due to the fact that soy formula does not contain lactose and so it can relieve symptoms associated with lactose overload. Lactose overload is a common problem experienced in the newborn period (birth to 3 months) due to overfeeding in the case of bottle-fed babies and oversupply syndrome in the case of breastfed babies. 

Article Article
Related articles: