Soy Infant Formula: A Formula For Disaster

soy formula for disaster

The following is a guest post by Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story and blogger at Dr. Kaayla Daniel The Naughty Nutritionist. Thank you Dr. Kaayla for sharing with us!

Soy infant formula should only be used as a last resort.

That’s the word from the Israeli Health Ministry, French Food Agency, German Institute of Risk Assessment, British Dietetic Association and other government health organizations around the world.

The biggest danger is the phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) found in all soybeans, organic, conventional or GMO. Although phytoestrogens are not identical to human estrogens, they are close enough to cause significant hormone disruption, adversely affecting the infant’s developing body and brain.

According to calculations made by the Swiss Federal Health Service, soy infant formula provides the hormonal equivalent of three to five birth control pills per day. The range is wide because some infants are hungrier than others, but it obviously represents a high dose of estrogen for anyone, and especially for infants whose very development requires the right hormones in the right place at the right time.

Studies on rats, sheep, monkeys and other animals — coupled with growing numbers of reports from pediatricians and parents — suggest that the estrogens in soy infant formula can irreversibly harm the baby’s later sexual development and reproductive health.

According to Iain Robertson, PhD, senior toxicologist at Auckland University Medical School in New Zealand, “infants on soy formula have been identified as a high-risk group because the formula is the main source of nutrient , and because of their small size and developmental phase.”

Bernard Zimmerli, PhD, of the Federal Office of Health in Berne, Switzerland, adds, “The hormonal environment of the newborn child has profound effects on the individual development process.”

Daniel Sheehan, PhD, retired senior toxicologist at the US Food and Drug Administration’s National Center for Toxicological Research, pulls no punches when he states that infants fed soy-based formulas have been placed at risk in a “large, uncontrolled and basically unmonitored human infant experiment.”

Boys on Soy Formula

What happens to boys put on soy formula?

The soy phytoestrogens can interfere with the testosterone surge that occurs during the boy’s first few months of life. So much testosterone at such a tender age is needed to program the boy for puberty, the time when his sex organs should develop and he should begin to express male characteristics such as facial and pubic hair and a deep voice.

If receptor sites intended for the hormone testosterone are occupied by soy estrogens instead, appropriate development may never take place.

Now that sales of soy formula have been a growth industry for more than 30 years, it is probably not coincidental that pediatricians are reporting greater numbers of boys whose physical maturation is either delayed or does not occur at all. Breasts, underdeveloped gonads, cryptorchidism (undescended testicles) and steroid insufficiencies are increasingly common. Sperm counts are also falling, and sperm quality has also declined.

Soy, of course, is not the only culprit. Environmental chemicals in plastics, pesticides, factory-farmed meats and tap water all play roles in the estrogenizing of our men.

Soy phytoestrogens from infancy also have been linked to rising rates of ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities. Furthermore, deficiency of male hormones impairs the development of spatial perception and visual discrimination.

Girls on Soy Formula

How might soy phytoestrogens from soy infant formula affect girls?

By contributing to precocious puberty, which is defined as puberty occurring in white girls under the age of 7 and black girls under the age of 6. Environmental estrogens from plastics and pesticides have also been implicated.

Besides cutting short childhood, early maturation in girls heralds reproductive problems later in life, including amenorrhea (failure to menstruate), anovulatory cycles (cycles in which no egg is released), impaired follicular development (follicles failing to mature and develop into healthy eggs), erratic hormonal surges and other problems associated with infertility.

As the mammary glands depend on estrogen for their development and functioning, the presence of soy estrogens at a susceptible time might predispose girls to breast cancer, another condition that is on the rise and definitively linked to early puberty.

Soy Industry Response

What does the soy industry say to all this?

It publicly scoffs at the idea of adverse effects and privately fund studies designed to hide the adverse effects of soy. What it doesn’t do — surprisingly enough — is claim high phytoestrogen content in the breast milk of women who consume copious amounts of tofu, soy milk, soy protein shakes and other soy foods. In fact, the evidence suggests phytoestrogens from soy are transferred to breast milk in only minuscule quantities. Although that’s good news for breastfeeding vegans, the bad news is their breast milk will probably show other unwanted effects from soy, including serious deficiencies of B6, B12 and other vitamins; zinc, calcium and other minerals; the sulfur containing amino acids methionine, cysteine and taurine; critical nutrients such as carnitine and CoQ10; and the advanced form omega 3 fatty acid known DHA. The extent of such deficiencies will, of course, depend on what else is in the mother’s diet. While soy milk is often supplemented with calcium and Vitamin D, the calcium is a cheap, hard-to-absorb form and the Vitamin D is not D3 but D2, which has been linked to hyperactivity, heart disease and allergic reactions.

Sadly, infants can readily absorb the phytoestrogens in soy infant formula, a fact that has been proven with numerous studies and led to the warnings from the Israeli, French, German and Swiss governments.

As yet our FDA has declined to warn the public though Dr. Sheehan and other of the agency’s own best scientists have taken strong stands.

Yet another fine scientist is Retha Newbold of the National Laboratory of Toxicology, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, who has concluded: “The use of soy-based infant formulas in the absence of medical necessity and the marketing of soy products designed to appeal to children should be closely monitored.”

The Takeaway

Don’t feed your baby soy infant formula.

If you are unable to breastfeed, know that there are other options! For babies that cannot tolerate dairy formulas, there are also other choices available, including a homemade meat-based formula.

Want to know more?

WholeSoyStory3For a more comprehensive discussion and full references, read Chapters 12 and 28 of Dr. Kaayla Daniel’s book The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food, which has been endorsed by leading health experts including Drs Joseph Mercola, Larry Dossey, Kilmer McCully, Russell Blaylock, Doris Rapp and Jonathan Wright. You may also want to read my Dangers of Soy article summarizing why soy is dangerous.

If you or your children are experiencing health challenges caused by soy infant formula, get Dr Daniel’s free report, “Recovering from Soy.” The link to the free report is on the left hand side of the home page for

Dr. Daniel is known as The Naughty Nutritionist™ because she outrageously and humorously debunks nutritional myths, including the myth that soy is a health food. She is Vice President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a popular speaker at Wise Traditions conferences, a guest on The Dr Oz Show, PBS Healing Quest and NPR’s People’s Pharmacy, and an “Inner Circle” expert with Dr. Joseph Mercola.

To follow her on Facebook:
To subscribe to her edu-taining Naughty Nutritionist blog:

(photo by pfly)


  1. Amber says

    Anyone have information on the effects of moms who drink soy milk and breast feed their babies. Before I knew better, I drank soy milk before during and after pregnancy and nursing my first son (8 years ago). How might that affect him and possible even my second son (since I drank it for a while)?

    • KristenM says

      I believe Dr. Kaayla’s article does that when she writes, “It publicly scoffs at the idea of adverse effects and privately fund studies designed to hide the adverse effects of soy. What it doesn’t do — surprisingly enough — is claim high phytoestrogen content in the breast milk of women who consume copious amounts of tofu, soy milk, soy protein shakes and other soy foods. In fact, the evidence suggests phytoestrogens from soy are transferred to breast milk in only minuscule quantities.”

  2. Jennifer says

    Soy also has major negative effects on women with breast cancer. As far back as 20 yrs ago, a friend’s mother had breast cancer and was vehemently warned by her oncologist to avoid soy at all costs. It apparently acts as a super food for the breast cancer, from what I heard. Scary!

  3. Noel says

    I appreciate the warning. We’re steering clear of soy milk for the time being. But I would also appreciate footnotes / works cited on all of these reports and quotes for those who can’t purchase the book.

    • says

      Yes, I have that issue also. You (Food Renegade) “site” and quote but you do not use any works, links, or footnotes to back up your allegations. My degree is in legal research and on my website I site the source I use or just post the entire article. You do nothing of the sort. You seem to only post one book YOU read and agree with. Here is an article from Men’s Health about the NEGATIVE effects of soy:

      Please try to back up your blog. Lately I’ve been very disappointed in it.

  4. says

    I have two children, and as infants they were having trouble with regular infant formula. My pediatrician immediately recommended soy formula, which of course, I started using. Now I know better. I had read that the excessive soy messes with hormones in adults which did cause me concern of it’s effect on infants and young children drinking soy milk as well. I’m glad to see that you posted this article on the dangers of it. Thank you.

  5. says

    This is clear evidence that the lives of our infants are so fragile and it’s imperative that we take caution when feeding them any type of formula. As a breastfeeding mother I have struggled with the demands and I completely understand why some women choose formula over breast milk. Health specialists have enough proof to classify soy formula as dangerous and I feel they are justified. Like the article says, there are safer alternatives that should be sought after first. Thanks for the information.

  6. says

    I would not want my baby to have soy milk. Besides all the research that are against it, here is my take. I believe that the Chinese have been consuming soy milk for centuries. It is consumed a lot of times as part of breakfast. With their knowledge and history of consuming soy milk, they are not feeding their babies with it. Instead, they mostly breastfeed, use dry milk, or else use infant formula. If they are not doing it, I don’t think it’s a good choice.

  7. says

    I have a real problem with this – I have given my youngest boy soy infant formula for months now, he is healthy and alert. How and why can there be the debates about what we feed our children? Everything given to our youngest and most vulnerable new lives should be unquestionable in terms of BENEFITS. I am deeply concerned that I might be leaving my baby open to risk, but I cannot breast feed unfortunately. I will be talking to my family doctor to get a steer – but I will not be endangering my baby with this formula anymore.

  8. V.Gaisford says

    Twenty odd years ago I gave my daughter some soy infant formula when she refused further breastfeeding at the age of six months. I found a smear of blood in her nappy.

  9. Grown Up Soy Baby says

    I am allergic to milk, was allergic to my own mother’s milk as an infant and raised on soy milk. I do have PCOS Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (infertile) but not sure how much of it is because of soy -vs- insulin resistance/diabetes which is on both sides of my family. I do know that I am the only sibling with infertility, and the only one with a soy diet.

  10. Kristy says

    I fed my daughter soy formula during her infant stages and then fed her pediacare which had many things in it that I did not like. My pediatrician wanted her to gain more weight. I have always felt unsettled about it. Now your article just answered my questions. I pray that she will live a long healthy life.

  11. Joan says

    I feel so terrible for feeding my baby soy formula for the first four months of his life. I am lactose intolerant and thought he wouldnfind plant based formula to be better. I was receiving formula througb WIC and no one told me soy could be dangerous. Now I am terrified I damaged my son.

  12. Simone says

    Although, I do not deny what this article claims because I have researched soy. It’s not a true case for every child. 25 years ago my mom fed me soy because that’s what was recommended to her. I have had a normal development with no problems to puberty or fertility in any way. In fact, I have two completely heathy boys, and had no trouble getting pregnant with them. Just saying this as a ease to some people who have already fed their child soy, don’t stress about it soo much, and what’s done is done.

    • S. Gaye says

      25 years ago GMO Soy was not around.
      Today, the gross majority of Soy used in US food products contain GMO Soys which contain significantly higher amounts of phytoestrogens – I’ve read three times as much or more and, an unhealthier mix of “fat” content – very significant health wise.
      Many don’t know that “unfermented” soy is toxic to the human body in many ways. The surprise – “fermented” non-gmo soy (especially black soy beans) is one of the best sources, if not the best source, of high quality protein. Again, like all things, the devil is in the details.
      Our wonderful food producers have subverted a super food and made it extremely malnutritious: leaching vitamins & minerals and causing severe hormonal dysfunction thereby causing immuno-suppression and other harmful sequelae. Soy has become a very well know cancer-causing food.
      I’ve always wondered what type of people-monsters create food products that harm human beings and then go to great lengths to market these poisons as being healthy.
      Side note: it is no accident that they are subverting oils into poisons since our cell membranes are composed of fatty chains. Think. . . many health diets use healthy fats to cure diseases (e.g., Budwig cancer diet, Coconut oil diet, Omega 3 Fish Oil diet, …). Likewise, unhealthy fats cause various diseases. Think GMO canola (rapeseed plant from which nerve gas is made), GMO cottonseed and GMO soy oils. Yes… they have also changed the fatty acid profile and makeup of the soy bean – not in our favor. In the past, they marketed margarine as the super healthy fat – far better than butter or coconut oil (they had hydrogenated coconut oil at this point). WRONG. . . they knew the trans-fats in margarine would create an entire profit-making heart industry along with many other ill conditions.

  13. Molly Graham says

    Kristen, I’m at work, so I haven’t even had a chance to read the article yet, but I already know what it’s going to say, and I will undoubtedly agree! I’ve been trying to convince the world of the dangers of soy formula and soy in general for a very long time. Here’s my question for you….why is there now soy in tuna? Just about every brand of plain old canned tuna has it listed on the ingredients list. I’ve found that the Central Market very low sodium variety found at HEB does not. I’m sure some of the others such as Wild Planet don’t either. What gives?

  14. says

    I lost a parathyroid gland drinking processed soy milk. Was ignorant to the dangers of soy and thought tossing cow’s milk, replacing with soy milk would be a healthier choice. Wrong. Today I do not eat soy anything, fermented or unfermented can’t risk my health to ignorance again.

  15. Emilie Porto Lobnitz via Facebook says

    I found out too late :( but my son only had a few months of it and all ebf before that. Was my first child and I was not experienced enough to push myself harder with breastfeeding.

  16. Katheryn Barrett via Facebook says

    How can we counteract the effects of soy? I’m already doing grain free and FCLO.

  17. Sara DeVooght Waldecker via Facebook says

    There’s no way to counteract the effects of soy. It’s like taking a birth control pill or more a day.

  18. Allison Bradshaw via Facebook says

    A little bit of soy is a lot better than a straight soy formula. There is a way to make your own as well

  19. Mindy Cox via Facebook says

    So bad for infants. Soy is bad for all of us! Natures One has formula (not soy formula but regular) that uses organic soy, as in soybean oil and soy lecithin, which is definitely a better option.

  20. Laura says

    I think this is a crock of sh*t. My child was on soy formula and has been absolutely fine!! People will say anything about to frighten parents, everyday it’s something new!!!

  21. Deb says

    All 3 of my now adult children were placed on soy formula, 2 boys, now 27 & 35 & my daughter 25, all whk have healthy male chuldren & none who showed any of the sude effect signs in the least little form! My oldest was very colicky & choked & turned blue on milk based formula at a month old. Once he was changed to Prosobe, soy formula he thrived. Everyone is a djfferent science project & usually thesd studiesa too small & inconclusive, to be accurate. My 27 year old was gifted & taldnted & excelled at reading, writing & art & still amazes me with his worldly knowledge! My other 2 ade musically gifted & play instruments by ear & my daughter was a “late bloomer” who didn’t start physically matjring until almost 14. So this dispells some of the “assumptions” in this study. My study of my own 3 children concludeds that soy didn’t adversely effect thsn at all!

  22. Momto1 says

    How do I undo the effects of this? My child is a tween and her body reflects the effects of EXCESS Estrogen. She is too developed physically. HELP!

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