The Formula Conundrum
The Right Stuff
When and Why to Try Soy
Suzette Bilotti, a first-time mother from Kenosha, Wis.,
switched her son, Nico, to a soy formula at 9 weeks to help quell problems with
gas and spitting up (called gastroesophageal reflux). "A couple of my
girlfriends who fed all their kids soy said it made a world of difference, and
they told me that may be the reason he's so fussy," says Bilotti.
The truth is, there's little evidence to support that theory.
"The data show that very few of these babies actually have true intolerance
to proteins, though some do," says Cochran. In addition, only about 1-3% of
all infant reflux problems are related to food allergies.
A better, nonmedical reason to use soy formula is because you
want to raise your child vegetarian. For a full-term infant, soy protein-based
formula, which contains no animal products, is a perfectly acceptable
alternative. "Soy formula is nutritionally complete," says Cochran,
"so I have no reservations about using it."
Since soy doesn't contain lactose -- the sugar found in milk --
it's also a good choice for infants with lactose intolerance, although this
condition is rare among babies. The AAP also recommends soy protein-based
formulas when a baby has:
- Problems metabolizing galactose (one of two sugars that make up
- A temporary deficiency of lactase, an intestinal enzyme that breaks down
lactose, following an intestinal infection.
Doctors recommend against using soy for infants recovering from
infant nutrition firm Mead Johnson announced a new baby formula
is about to hit the market. The product features special ingredients: natural
components found in breast milk that the company says have been FDA-recognized
for use in baby formula. Mead Johnson is a WebMD sponsor.
The ingredients -- called DHA and ARA -- are fatty acids that
are important to a baby's developing eyes and brain. Mead Johnson says its
product is the first in the U.S. to include them.
Doctors say a mother's breast milk is still the best nutrition
for your baby. This product is not meant to replace breast milk, but to come
closer to the real thing for women who cannot breastfeed or prefer to feed
their babies from a bottle.