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Research studies effects of soy baby formula on intestinal development

so these data may be applicable to human infants, the researcher said.

No differences in the activities of digestive enzymes or uptake of nutrients were observed, which suggests that genistein had little effect on mature intestinal cells that were no longer proliferating.

Although these data are the first to show that genistein is bioactive in the neonatal intestine, Donovan said these results do not mean soy formulas should not be fed to babies. "Clinical data suggest that soy formulas are safe," she said, "but even though they appear to be safe, they may not be without effect."

So far, Donovan has studied genistein alone, but soy formulas contain other soy isoflavones that likely affect genistein's actions in the intestine. The researcher plans to study those interactions. "Soy isoflavones may have both positive and negative effects that need to be better understood," she said.

Donovan pointed to recent research that showed adding long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids to infant formula improves brain and retinal development and even IQ scores. Recent research has also shown that adding nucleotides to baby formula causes babies to react better to vaccinations and make more antibodies, she said.

"And although that research showed differences that were measurable, the babies fed formula with added fatty acids or nucleotides appeared to grow the same as other babies do," she said. "So I don't think you can use growth as the sole parameter for normal development."

An-Chian Chen contributed to the cell-culture study. Other researchers contributing to the piglet study were An-Chian Chen, a doctoral student in nutritional sciences; Mark A. Berhow, an adjunct professor of biochemistry in the UI department of crop sciences and researcher for the USDA-ARS Bioactive Agents Research Unit in Peoria, Ill.; and Kelly A. Tappenden, professor of food science.

Both studies were funded by the Illinois Council on Food an
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Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer, Media/Communications Specialist
p-pickle@uiuc.edu
217-244-2827
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
16-Dec-2004


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