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Baby FormulaFDA CONSUMER A REPRINT FROM FDA CONSUMER MAGAZINE (with permission) REPRINTED AND UPDATED FROM DHHS PUBLICATION NO.(FDA) 91-2236

The most common sources of protein in infant formulas are either cow's milk or soybeans. "For term infants, soy formulas appear to be as nutritionally sound as milk-based formulas, and their use is unlikely to expose infants to nutritional risk," wrote pediatrician Samuel J. Foman in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Baylor's Schanler agrees, but says that there is some question about whether the minerals in soy-based formulas can be used by the infant's body as well as those from cow's milk formula.

For a healthy, full-term infant, "cow's milk formula would be the first choice," Schanler says. "The only indication that I see for soy formula is for babies with lactose intolerance."

Lactose, also known as milk sugar, is the main carbohydrate in milk. Infants who don't have enough of the enzyme lactase to digest the lactose may suffer from abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas, bloating, or cramps. There is no lactose in soy formula.

Schanler does not think soy formula is a good choice for infants with milk allergies, however. "If there is a real history of [milk] allergy in the family, the baby might be allergic to soy, too," he says. Instead of soy, Schanler recommends special cow's milk formulas known as protein hydrolysates, which won't cause allergic reactions because the proteins are already broken down. "That way the chance of a cross reaction with the soy protein is eliminated," he explains.

Both milk and soy formulas are available in powder, liquid concentrate, or ready-to-feed forms. The choice should depend on "whatever the parents find convenient and can afford," says Schanler.

Whatever form is chosen, proper preparation and refrigeration are essential. Opened cans of ready-to-feed and liquid concentrate must be refrigerated and used within the time specified on the can. Once the powder is mixed with water it should also be refrigerated, if it is not used right away. The exact amounts of water recommended on the label must be used. Under-diluted formula can cause problems for the infant's organs and digestive system. Over-diluted formula will not provide adequate nutrition, and the baby may fail to thrive and grow.

Dori Stehlin is a staff writer for FDA Consumer.

We hope you found this reprint from FDA Consumer magazine useful and informative. FDA Consumer, the magazine of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, provides a wealth of information on FDA-related health issues: food safety, nutrition, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, radiation protection, vaccines, blood products, and veterinary medicine. For a sample copy of FDA Consumer and a subscription order form, write to: Food and Drug Administration, HFI-40, Rockville, MD. 20857.

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Related Articles
About Infant Formula
Bottlefeeding Getting Started
Milk Allergies
Soy Beverage Warning
Warming Infant Formula
Vitamins, Yes or No?


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