Infant formulas are designed to lower the chances of developing allergy or food intolerance.
But do they?
A Cochrane review of studies in infants at high risk of allergy who are unable to completely breastfeed found no reduction in allergies in later infancy and childhood associated with soy or cow’s milk formula.
Based on the available study results, by following infants into childhood (10 years) we know the following?
No difference in childhood allergy incidence (2 studies)
No difference in infant asthma, infant eczema, childhood eczema prevalence, infant rhinitis, or childhood rhinitis prevalence (1 study)
No difference in the incidence of childhood asthma (3 studies), childhood eczema (2 studies), or childhood rhinitis (2 studies).
No difference in infant cow’s milk protein intolerance, infant cow’s milk allergy, childhood soy protein allergy incidence and urticaria (1 study)
The bottom line?
There is no significant benefit from the use of a soy formula compared to a cow’s milk formula. However, the review supports previous evidence that mothers who choose to only breastfeed their infants for at least 6 months do reduce the incidence of allergy.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, women who don’t have health problems should “exclusively breastfeed their infants for at least the first six months of life.”
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.