Move to curb soyformula milk sales




In Britain the safety of soyabased infant formula milk has recently been called into question by the government’s scientific advisers, in a move that could result in it being available only on prescription.


They fear children’s sexual development and fertility as adults might be affected if they take the products during their first few months of life.


About one in 50 babies who are not breastfed are given soy formula. In Canada up to 20 per cent of infants are given soy formulas.


The advisers say there is "clear evidence" of potential risk from using the products and no evidence that the products confer any health benefit. There is no medical need for it either, they say, since other therapies could be prescribed for infants allergic to cow’s milk protein.


Members of the scientific advisory committee on nutrition believe studies suggesting harmful effects on the sexual development of marmosets, and "extreme discomfort" in menstruation for women who had been fed soy formula years before, are cause for "significant concern."


The use of the soy formula is already officially discouraged by the UK government. But the latest warnings about safety go much further than previous ones.


The tougher stance on soy formula comes from part of a far wider review of evidence of the health risks and benefits of chemicals called phytoestrogens.  These oestrogen-containing compounds that naturally occur in foods such as soy, may mimic or disrupt hormones in our bodies.


~James Meikle, health correspondent, The Guardian, Saturday February 8, 2003


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