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Annu Rev Nutr. 2004;24:33-54.

Isoflavones in soy infant formula: a review of evidence for endocrine and other activity in infants.

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  • 1Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Soy infant formulas are widely used, but few studies have evaluated long-term safety or examined specific forms of toxicity, such as to the endocrine or immune systems. This review focuses on newer experimental studies of the effects on estrogen activity, immune function, and thyroid economy of genistein and daidzein, two isoflavones in soy infant formula, and existing human studies of soy formula use. In order to judge the likelihood that an endpoint seen in laboratory studies might occur in soy-fed infants, we examined the doses and the resulting serum or plasma concentrations from the laboratory studies and compared them with doses and concentrations seen in soy-fed infants. We also summarized the estimates of the potency of the isoflavone compounds relative to estradiol. Given the scarcity and inconsistency of existing human data and the substantial laboratory evidence of hormonal and other activity at doses relevant to the soy-fed infant, we conclude that more clinical and epidemiological study is warranted.

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