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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Infant Feeding And Nutrition >>  Soy Based and Special Formulas

Soy Based And Special Formulas For Infants

An infant’s healthy nutritional status purely lies in the hands of the parents based on the food choices they make for their little one. Soy protein based formulas are used for more than 100 years and around 25% of the United State infants receive these formulas. Soy based formulas are used by parents seeking a vegetarian diet for their infants.

These formulas are a good choice for infants having cow’s milk protein allergy, galactosemia, lactose intolerance or hereditary lactase deficiency as these formulas are free from cow’s milk protein and lactose. Infants who experience colic, irritability or emesis are often switched to soy protein based formulas in hope of relieving the symptoms (diarrhea and visible blood in the stool are the major symptoms of cow’s milk protein allergy).

But if a true cow’s milk protein allergy is not present then this change is not likely to be successful. Moreover infants with cow’s milk protein intolerance are likely to be sensitive to soy milk as well, as soy itself is an allergen.

Benefits Of Soy And Soy Based Formula For Diet

Soy based infant formula meets the nutritional requirement of an infant in terms of proteins, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Infants receiving soy based formulas have shown adequate growth status when compared to those fed on cow’s milk formula. Also serum phosphorus and calcium levels and bone mineralization in infants fed on soy based formulas is similar to that of infants fed cow’s milk protein formula. Soy protein formulas are fortified with additional calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc as they contain 1.5% phytates that interfere with the absorption of these compounds.

Studies show that serum phosphorus levels in pre-term infants fed on soy based formula are lower and can lead to osteopenia in these infants, thus soy based formulas are not advisable for pre-term infants. Although soy based formulas are a good choice, lot of concern has been raised regarding its safety due to the presence of phytoestrogens in the form of isoflavones. Isoflavones are phytochemicals with plant estrogenic activity that can interfere with the endocrine and reproductive development of an infant. Only soy milk formulas used routinely have not shown to have value in preventing illnesses and diseases. Thus to minimize unnecessary exposure to any possible unknown risk, use soy protein based formulas when a child cannot tolerate cow’s milk or in the absence of breast milk.

Other special formulas include ready to use formulas, liquid concentrate formulas and powdered formulas which can be lactose free, iron-enriched, extensively hydrolyzed, formulas for pre-mature and low-birth weight babies, human milk fortified or metabolic formulas. Depending on the infants tolerance and need a specialist will recommend a formula for the infant.

Submitted on January 16, 2014