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Study Suggests Effects of Products in Soy-Based Formula on Thymus Size

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But at least one expert on infant nutrition cast skepticism on the relevance of the study.

Susan Baker, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics at the State University of New York at Buffalo Children's Hospital, says that there are important developmental differences between mice and other animals used in laboratory research, and humans. "The animal research is fascinating biologically, but you have to be very careful in applying it to humans," she says.

And Baker says that there has been years of experience with many thousands of babies who have been exclusively fed soy-based formula. There has been no documented evidence that the formula has any long-term adverse effects, she says.

"We have had generations of experience with soy and we have not seen a large population with adverse outcomes," Bakers says. "We haven't seen big swings in particular cancers or reproductive disorders that could be ascribed to a feeding pattern in infancy."

A 1998 statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics on the use of soy-based infant formula says that animal research on the effects of plant-derived estrogens in soy, like genistein, are not conclusive.

"In term infants whose nutritional needs are not being met from maternal breast milk or cow milk-based formulas, isolated soy protein-based formulas are safe and effective alternatives to provide appropriate nutrition for normal growth and development," the Academy says in its statement.

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