Developmental status of infants fed breast milk, cow's milk formula, or soy formula

Thursday, Feb 01, 2018


Andres A, Cleves MA, Bellando JB, Pivik RT, Casey PH, Badger TM. Developmental status of 1-year-old infants fed breast milk, cow's milk formula, or soy formula. Pediatrics. 2012 Jun;129(6):1134-40. Link to PubMed

  • Background:
    Soy formula has been reported to support normal development, the current study aim to characterize behavioral development (mental, motor, and language) of breastfed (BF), milk-based formula-fed (MF), or soy protein-based formula-fed (SF) infants during the first year of life.
  • Method: 
    Healthy infants (n = 391) were assessed at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.  Bayley Scales of Infant Development and the Preschool Language Scale-3 were used for evaluation.
  • Key findings:  
    • All scores on developmental testing were within normal ranges.
    • BF infants scored slightly higher on the Mental Developmental Index than formula-fed infants at 6 and 12 months (p < 0.05).
    • BF infants scored higher on the Psychomotor Development Index scores than SF infants at 6 months and slightly higher Preschool Language Scale-3 scores than MF infants at 3 and 6 months (p < 0.05).
    • There were no differences between formula-fed infants (MF versus SF).
  • Conclusion:
    MF and SF groups did not differ significantly.  This study showed that BF infants have a slight advantage on cognitive development when compared with formula-fed infants.


Breast milk is best for babies. Infant formula is intended to replace breast milk when mothers do not breastfeed. Good maternal nutrition is important for preparation and maintenance of breastfeeding. Introducing partial bottle feeding could negatively affect breastfeeding, and reversing a decision not to breastfeed is difficult. Professional advice should be followed on infant feeding. Infant formula should be prepared and used as directed. Unnecessary or improper use of infant formula may present a health hazard. Social and financial implications should be considered when selecting a method of infant feeding.



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