Soy-based baby formula has grown in popularity in recent years. According to Verywell Family, the American Academy of Pediatrics found soy protein-based formulas make up almost 20 percent to 25 percent of the formula market in the United States. But a new study recently revealed parents may want to reconsider the use of soy-based formula, especially in little girls, as the product may affect her reproductive system later in life. Specifically, soy formula feeding in infancy can cause severe menstrual pain in adulthood.
The study, which was conducted by researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and published in the journal Human Reproduction, analyzed data from 1,553 Black American women aged 23 to 35. What they found was that women fed soy formula as infants were 20 percent more likely to use medication for menstrual pain within the first five years of menses.
Dr. Kristen Upson, a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences postdoctoral researcher and the lead author of the study, offered some insight as to why. In a statement, Upson said, “[D]ata from previous laboratory animal studies suggest that early-life exposure to genistein, a naturally occurring component in soy formula, interferes with the development of the reproductive system, including factors involved in menstrual pain.”
She added that these developmental changes can continue into adulthood.
That said, it is important to note that all data was self-reported and relied on a subject’s recall and interpretation of said pain. As such, additional research is necessary. However, Upson believes that, given the regularity and frequency of the pain, this research is very important (and could be very beneficial).
“Given how common menstrual pain is and the impact it can have on women’s lives, the next steps in research should examine exposures, even those that occur earlier in life that may increase a women’s [sic] risk of experiencing menstrual pain,” Upson said.