Food and Behaviour Research

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Soy Infant Formula may be Associated with Autistic Behaviors.

Westmark CJ. (2013) Autism Open Access.  2013 Nov 18;3.  pii: 20727.   DOI: 10.4172/2165-7890.1000120 PMID: 25401047 PMCID: PMC4229689

Web URL: View this and related abstract via PubMed here. Free full text is available online.


The effects of soy-based infant formulas on childhood development are not well understood. This exploratory study evaluates the severity of autistic behaviors in association with the use of soy-based infant formula in a population of high-functioning autistic children.

Medical record data were analyzed from the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative Simplex Collection, which included data on infant formula use and autism diagnostic scores for 1,949 autistic children.

We found exploratory associations between the use of soy-based infant formula and several autistic behaviors as assessed by line-item analysis of the Aberrant Behavior Checklist, Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule.

This study provides preliminary data that the use of soy-based infant formula may be associated with specific autistic behaviors.


This study found higher rates of autistic features and symptoms linked with the use of soy-based formula in infancy, using database records collected for research into autism.

The design of this study cannot provide any evidence of causal effects.  It was, however, initiated following observations from animal studies indicating links between diets high in soy (versus dairy) protein and epilepsy - a condition associated with autism and other developmental conditions.

These findings highlight the need for further research into the potential effects of soy-based infant formula on brain development and function. At present, such formula is available in the US, but has not been approved in the EU.

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