Health & Spirit

Early exposure to soy baby formula affects menstrual cramps

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

When Bustle posted "The 28 Most Significant Period Moments in TV & Movie History," we were surprised that 17 dealt with a girl's first period (Darlene on "Roseanne," Vada on "My Girl," Blossom on "Blossom") and only one mentioned the pain menstruation can cause, even though it affects 80 percent of women at some time in their life. For 10 percent of women it's even bad enough to completely disrupt daily activities.

If you struggle with such symptoms, you wouldn't want to increase your discomfort -- or wish it on your female child. But ever more evidence shows that feeding newborns soy-based formula can alter their reproductive health in far-reaching ways.

A new study published in Human Reproduction found that women 18 to 22 who were exposed to soy formula as infants were 50 percent more likely to have moderate to severe menstrual discomfort and pain than females who never had soy formula. The lead researcher, Kristen Upson, Ph.D., says it may be early-life exposure to the phytoestrogen genistein in soy formula that interferes with development of the reproductive system, including factors involved in menstrual pain. And a study published in March 2018 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism did find that infant girls fed soy formula have changes in their vaginal and uterine cell structures.

More research is needed to be certain how, and how much, soy formulas damage reproductive health. There are alternatives for non-breastfed infants who cannot tolerate lactose or milk proteins or who are being raised vegetarian, so talk to your pediatrician about the smart choice for your child.


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Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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