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No evidence that soy formula milk is better than cow’s milk formulas for infants at high risk of allergy or food intolerance

Many infants are fed at least some formula milk early in life.

Soy formula is often recommended for infants who are at particular risk of allergy or intolerance, because research has shown that while around 1.8% of children have an allergy to cow’s milk, only 0.5% have allergic responses to soy.

Cochrane Review Authors analysed data from trials in which some of the at risk infants received at least part of their diet as soy formula milk. The infants in these trials showed no differences in allergic conditions such as asthma, eczema and rhinitis between those receiving soy formula milk and those receiving formulas based on cow’s milk.

The researchers looked for studies that compared soy formula with human breast milk or hydrolysed cow’s milk, but found none that met their criteria for the quality of the design of the trial and the proportion of infants who completed the trial.

“Current evidence suggests that using a soy formula instead of cow’s milk does not reduce allergies in infants and children,” says co-author Dr John Sinn, who works in the Neonatal Unit at Westmead Hospital, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia.

“This Review should also be viewed alongside one we published in 2003 which found limited evidence of benefit from hydrolysed protein formula when compared to cow’s milk formula,” says co-author Dr David Osborn, from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia.

Polly Young | alfa
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