Objective: To study the hypothesis that ingestion of a modified soy-based formula with an improved mineral suspension system may result in bone mineral content similar to that observed in infants fed human milk or cow milk-based formulas.
Design: Prospective, self-selected group of infants fed human milk randomized between the two formula-fed groups.
Setting: University-based hospital nursery and follow-up.
Participants: Fifty-six normal, healthy, full-term infants, free of major malformations or disorders, including 17 infants fed human milk, 19 infants fed a cow milk-based formula, and 20 infants fed a soy protein formula were followed up to 6 months' postnatal age. The soy-based formula studied was modified to improve the suspendability of the minerals.
Interventions: Infants were fed human milk or the study formula for the first 4 months, at which time beikost was permitted. Infants fed human milk received vitamin supplementation to provide 400 IU of vitamin D per day.
Measurements: Anthropometric variables, serum calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase, and parathyroid hormone levels were measured at enrollment, and at 8, 16, and 24 to 26 weeks' postnatal age. Bone mineral content at the distal third radius site was measured with single photon absorptiometry at these times. Growth in the infants did not differ significantly among the groups. There was no significant difference in serum calcium, magnesium, alkaline phosphatase, or parathyroid hormone concentrations among the infants during the study. Serum phosphorus was significantly lower at 8 weeks in the group fed human milk than in that fed the cow milk-based formula. Bone mineral content at 16 and 24 to 26 weeks was higher in the group fed the soy-based formula than in that fed human milk, and bone width was also higher at 16 weeks in the infants fed the soy-based formula.
Conclusions: Improving the suspendability of the mineral system in the soy formula results in bone mineralization in infants fed the soy-based formula similar to that measured in infants fed human milk and cow milk-based formula. We suggest that the suspendability of the minerals used is an important variable in the interpretation of the effect of feedings on the bone mineral status of infants.