Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Babies with Boobies? What's Next?


Are you sure which one your baby will need next?

Soy has become a pervasive food additive that is touted by the industry as a superfood. However, a number of studies have suggested harmful effects of soy on sexual development in children. One recent study in the journal, Paediatric & Perinatal Epidemiology found a 25% increased risk of early menarche (first menstrual period) in girls fed soy formula early in infancy.  In this study only 2% of the nearly 3000 girls studied had soy formula before age 4 months and the researchers were still able to pick up this difference.  In the US, 65% of babies have had formula by age 3 months and soy formulas currently make up 25% of the US formula market. Soy is praised for its estrogen stimulating effects in menopausal women, so just thinking rationally, it isn't hard to see that it would be harmful to give an estrogen stimulant to a small child for its total diet.

Less publicized studies found that soy formula in male infants may effect sexual development & preference during adolescence. Another associated soy intake with persistent sexual arousal syndrome.  Others suggest soy interferes with the absorption of calcium and other minerals needed for proper growth & development. This may be related to high levels of phytates, nutrient blocking chemicals found in soy, nuts and other beans.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using soy formula unless a child truly has a medical reason why they cannot have cow's milk based formula (which is actually pretty unusual).  In fact more babies are allergic to soy than cow's milk. 

Please, please, please be more cautious about giving soy formula to infants (male & female).  Not everything marketed as food should be eaten. Everything free (ie WIC programs) still comes at a price. Eating properly is important for proper mental and physical functioning of children and adults. Breastfeeding is best.  If you must use formula, avoid using soy formulas unless absolutely necessary.  Please pass on this information to people you may know who are feeding or considering feeding their children soy formula.

Link to a summary of this article here: Early-life soy exposure and age at menarche

Peace & health,

Dr. Safiyya

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