Soy-based infant nutrition: a review

Main Article Content

Yvan Vandenplas
Badriul Hegar


Dietary consumption of soy varies worldwide.
In Asia, people traditionally consume large
quantities of soy, while in Europe, soy is not
part of the traditional or daily eating habits.
The USA is a major soy producer. The mean intake of
isoflavones by an adult is 8 - 50 mg/day in Asia but only
0.5 - 3.5 mg/day in the Western world.1 The soy intake
of a vegetarian is 3 - 12 mg/day and a vegan achieves
an intake of 15-60 mg/day.2
In the early 1900s, soy-protein preparations
were the only option for the treatment of cow's milk
protein allergy (CMPA) . The first report of the use of
a soybean -based formula for infants dates from 1909.3
Most soy drinks are not enriched with zinc, iron,
calcium, phosphorous, methionine, or carnitine. Soy
drinks also do not contain soy isolate. Soy products
that do not fulfill the criteria to be an infant formula
are not adapted for infant feeding.

Article Details

How to Cite
Vandenplas Y, Hegar B. Soy-based infant nutrition: a review. PI [Internet]. 28Feb.2014 [cited 20Jun.2019];54(1):62-. Available from:
Review Article
Received 2016-08-16
Accepted 2016-08-16
Published 2014-02-28


1. Mortensen A, Kulling SE, Schwartz H, Rowland I, Ruefer CE, Rimbach G, et al. Analytical and compositional aspects of isoflavones in food and their biological effects. Mol Nutt Food Res. 2009;53:266-309.
2. Badger TM, Ronis MJ, Hakkak R, Rowlands JC, Korourian S. The h ealth cons equences of early soy consumption. J Nutr. 2002;132:559-65.
3. Riihrah J. The soy bean in infant feeding : preliminary report. Arch Pediatr. 1909;26:496-51.
4. Henley EC, Kuster JM. Protein quality evaluation by protein digestibility-corrected amino acid scoring. Food Technol. 1994;48:74-7.
5. Friedman M, Brandon DL, Bates AH, Hymowitz T. Effect of heat on the nutritional quality and safety of soybean cultivars. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1991;289:339-61.
6. Lonnerdal B, Jayawickrama L, Lien EL. Effect ofreducing the phytate content and of partially hydrolyzing the protein in soy formula on zinc and copper absorption and status in infant rhesus monkeys and rat pups. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69:490-6.
7. Bhatia J, Greer F, American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. Use of soy protein-based formulas in infant feeding. Pediatrics. 2008;121:1062-8.
8. Hall RT, Callenbach JC, Sheehan MB, Hall FK, Thibeault DW, Kurth CG, et al. Comparison of calcium and phosphorus-supplemented soy isolate formula with whey predominant premature formula in very low birth weight infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1984;3:571-6.
9. Koo WW, Kaplan LA. Aluminum and bone disorders: with specific reference to aluminum contamination of infant nutrients. J Am Coll Nutr. 1988;7:199-214.
10. Acosta PB, Gross KC. Hidden sources of galactose in the environment. Eur J Pediatr. 1995;154:87-92.
11. Setchell KD, Zimmer-Nechemias L, Cai J, Heubi JE. Exposure of infants to phyto-oestrogens from soy-based infant formula. Lancet. 1997;350:23-7.
12. Cao Y, Calafat AM, Doerge DR, Umbach DM, Bernbaum JC, Twaddle NC, et al. Isoflavones in urine, saliva, and blood of infants: data from a pilot study on the estrogenic activity of soy formula. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2009;19:223-34.
13. Adams NR. Permanent infertility in ewes exposed to plant oestrogens. Aust Vet J. 1990;67:197-201.
14. Whitten PL, Lewis C, Russell E, Naftolin F. Potential adverse effects of phytoestrogens. J Nutr. 1995;125:771-6.
15. Merritt RJ, Janks BH. Safety of soy-based infant formulas containing isoflavones: the clinical evidence. J Nutr. 2004;134:1220-4.
16. Tan KA, Walker M, Morris K, Greig I, Mason JI, Sharpe RM. Infant feedingwith soy formula milk: effects on puberty progression, reproductive function and testicular cell numbers in marmoset monkeys in adulthood. Hum Reprod. 2006;21:896-904.
17. Strom BL, Shinnar R, Ziegler EE, Barnhart KT, Sammel MD, Macones GA, et al. Exposure to soy-based formula in infancy and endocrinological and reproductive outcomes in young adulthood. JAMA. 2001 ;286:807-14.
18. Businco L, Bruno G, Giampietro PG, Furculo G. No oestrogens hormon al effects in long-term soy formula fed children. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999;103:169.
19. Giampietro P, Bruno G, Furculo G, Casati A, Brunetti E, Spadoni GL, et al. Soy protein formulas in children : no hormonal effects in long-term feeding. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2004;17:191-6.
20. Mendez MA, Anthony MS, Arab L. Soy-based formulae and infant growth and development: a review. J Nutr. 2002; 132:2127-30.
21. Zung A, Glaser T, Kerem Z, Zadik Z. Breast development in the first 2 years of life: an association with soy-based infant formulas. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2008;46:191-5.
22. Hugget AC, Pridmore S, Malnoe A, Haschke F, Offord EA. Phyto-oestrogens in soy-based infant formula. Lancet. 1997;350:816-6.
23. D'Aloisio M, Baird DD, De Roo LA, Sandler DP. Association of intrauterine and early-life exposures with diagnosis of uterine leiomyomata by 35 years of age in the sister study. Environ Health Perspect. 2010;118:375-81.
24. Chandrareddy A, Muneyyirci-Delale O, Mcfarlane SI, Murad OM. Adverse effects of phytoestrogens on reproductive health : a report of three cases. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2008;14:132-5.
25. Yellayi S, Naaz A, Szewcykowski MA, Stato T, Woods JA, Chang J, et al. The phytooestrogen genistein induces thymic and immune changes : a human health concern? Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2002;99:7616-21.
26. Businco L, Bruno G, Grandolfo ME, Novello F, Fiore L, Amato C. Response to poliovirus immunization and type of feeding in babies of atopic families. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 1990;1:60-3.
27. Donovan SM, Andres A, Mathai RA, Kuhlenschmidt TB, Kuhlenschmidt MS. Soy formula and isoflavones and the developing intestine. Nutt Rev. 2009;67:192-200.
28. Andres A, Donovan SM, Kuhlenschmidt TB, Kuhlenschmidt MS. Isoflavones at concentrations present in soy infant formula inhibit rotavirus infection in vitro. J Nutr. 2007;137:2068-73.
29. Dillingham BL, Mc Veigh BL, Lampe JW, Duncan AM. Soy protein isolates of varied isoflavone content do not influence serum thyroid hormones in healthy young men. Thyroid. 2007;17:131-7.
30. Fort P, Moses N, Fasano M, Goldberg T, Lifshitz F. Breast and soy-formula feedings in early infancy and the prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease in children. J Am Coll Nutr. 1990;9:164-7.
31. Jabbar MA, Larreal, Shaw RA. Abnormal thyroid function tests in infants with congenital hypothyroidism: the influence of soy-based formula. J Am Coll Nutr. 1997;16:280-2.
32. Divi RL, Chang HC, Doerge DR. Anti-thyroid isoflavones from soybean. Biochem Pharmacol. 1997;54:1087-96.
33. Conrad SC, Chiu H, Silverman BL. Soy formula complicates management of congenital hypothyroidism. Arch Dis Child. 2004;89:37-40.
34. Agostoni C, Axelsson I, Goulet 0, Koletzko B, Fleischer MK, Puntis J, et al. Soy protein infant formula: a commentary by the ESPGHAN Coommittee on Nutrition. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2006;42:352-61.
35. Vandenplas Y, Gutierrez-Castrellon P, Velasco-Benitez C, Palacios J, Jaen D, Ribeiro H, et al. Practical algorithms for managing common gastrointestinal symptoms in infants. Nutrition. 2013;29:184-94.
36. Levin ME, Motala C, Lopata AL. Anaphylaxis in a milk-allergic child after ingestion of soy formula cross-contaminated with cow's milk protein. Pediatrics. 2005;116:1223-5.