Soy - Part Five: Should Kids Eat Soy?

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As I stated in Part Two of this series, soy contains high levels of phytoestrogens. If these phytoestrogens have a negative impact on adult health, we should conclude that phytoestrogens would have an even greater negative impact on the health of our babies and children. Studies show that genistein, the main phytoestrogen in soy, has been shown to cause behaviour changes in rodents such as increased signs of stress, decreased social contact and altered sexual expression.

Many people would agree that the rate at which our young girls are developing is frightening! So, is there a link?

Let's look at soy-based formula...

 "Babies fed soy-based formula have 13,000 to 22,000 times more estrogen compounds in their blood than babies fed milk-based formula."

In fact, the amount of estrogen that a baby receives due to soy-based formula is equivalent to at least five birth control pills a day!

Infants seem to grow normally on soy formula, but problems start appearing at the onset of puberty. Some of the problems reported include extreme emotional behavior, learning difficulties, asthma, immune system problems, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, early development in girls and disrupted sexual development in boys.

Consider these cautions by health authorities:

  • The Australian College of Pediatrics recommends that soy formula not be indiscriminately used, noting that the routine use of soy may result in side effects.
  • The New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends routine assessment of thyroid function in infants on soy formula.
  • A Canadian Government Committee recommends the restriction of soy-based formula to infants who "cannot be fed dairy-based products for healthy, cultural or religious reasons, including galactosemia or a vegan lifestyle."
  • The Food Safety Authority of Ireland does not recommend the routine use of soy-based formula in infants.
  • The Swiss Federal /Commission on Food recommends that "use of soya bean products as baby foods should be made very restrictive" and allowed only in a few medical conditions (lactose intolerance, galactosemia and cow's milk allergy).

In addition, soy should not be given to children with autism

Great Plains Laboratory performed allergy testing on a large number of autistic children and found that almost every one of the children had extremely high allergies to soy. Dr. W. Shaw, head of the lab, strictly advises that soy should not be given to children with autism.

So, is increased estrogen really a big deal?

The effect on young females...

As mentioned above, infants exclusively fed soy formula receive the estrogenic equivalent of at least five birth control pills per day. Almost 15 percent of white girls and 50 percent of African-American girls show signs of puberty, such as breast development and pubic hair, before the age of eight. Some girls are showing sexual development before the age of three. Premature development of girls has been linked to the use of soy formula and exposure to environmental estrogen-mimickers such as PCBs and DDE.

The effect on young males...

Another very concerning issue is in regards to hypospadias in males. According to The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care by Sally Fallon Morell, hypospadias is "a birth defect in which the opening of the urethra appears on the underside of the shaft of the penis... In some cases, it appears so far back as to create doubt about the gender of the child... Undescended testicles and inguinal hernia are the most common associated anomalies found in boys with hypospadias."

It is one of the most common congenital birth defects, occurring in 1 out of 125 males. Exposure to pesticides, plastics and other chemicals may be the culprit, but so is exposure to soy.

According to one study of pregnancy and childhood, researches found that vegetarian mothers were five times more likely to give birth to a boy with hypospadias than a mother who ate meat. The researchers state, "It is important to note that there is biological evidence that vegetarians have greater exposure to phytoestrogens and thus a causal link is biologically feasible... As vegetarians have a greater exposure to phytoestrogens than do omnivores, these results support the possibility that phytoestrogens have a deleterious effect on the developing male reproductive system." [emphasis mine]

Soy is the most likely cause, as there are no other commonly eaten foods that are high in phytoestrogens.

But if they make soy-based foods for kids, they should be safe for them to consume... right?

"Lurking in the background of the industry hype for soy is the nagging question of whether it is even legal to add soy protein isolate to food. All food additives not in common use prior to 1958, including casein protein from milk, must have 'Generally Recognized As Safe' status (GRAS). Casein protein became codified as GRAS in 1978. So far, soy protein has GRAS status only as a binder in cardboard boxes, as it is considered that migration of nitrites from the box into the food contents would be too small to constitute a cancer risk. Thus soy protein isolate must be subject to premarket approval procedures each time manufacturers intend to use it as a food or add SPI to a food. Soy protein was introduced into infant formula in the early 1960s without GRAS status, which still has not been given- the key ingredient of soy infant formula is not recognized as safe!"

Whether you are worried about the added estrogen or not, should we be feeding our children something that hasn't even been thoroughly evaluated? I find this absolutely appalling! We, as parents, should feel certain that the foods produced for our kids are actually safe for them to consume. I genuinely do not judge any parent who feeds their child soy-based formula because the child has not been able to breastfeed or cannot tolerate casein. But I think parents need to know that these products haven't been properly approved so that we can make a stand.

It is not okay for food producers to forgo proper testing and "hope for the best" with our children's health!

What do you think? Should food producers be required to do more to prove foods are safe to consume before released to the masses?

Soy - Part Five Should Kids Eat Soy 2

Read the whole "Truth About Soy" Series:

Part One - Introduction

Part Two - The Dangers of Unfermented Soy

Part Three - Phytoestrogens

Part Four - GMO's and Soy Production

Part Five - Should Kids Eat Soy?

Part Six - The Benefits of Fermented Soy

Part Seven - Conclusion