Autistic Infants Fed Soy-Based Formula Have More Seizures

Infants with autism who were fed soy-based formula had more seizures than their counterparts fed dairy-based formulas, according to a study published in PLOS ONE.

Infants with autism on a diet of soy-based formula had more seizures than their milk-based formula counterparts, according to a study published in PLOS ONE.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied 1,949 autistic children (13.4% female) from the Simons Foundation Autism Research Institute (SFARI) Simplex Collection. The database included information on infant formula use (17.5% soy-based), seizure incidence, the specific type of seizure exhibited, and IQ.

Children with autism who were fed soy formula had 2.6 times as many febrile seizures as the children of non-soy formula in the database. However, the vast majority of the infants did not develop seizures, just 4.2% of the soy group and 1.6% of the others.

“We can say that we have a potential association between the use of soy-based formula and seizures in autistic children; we can't say that this is cause and effect,” Cara Westmark, PhD, the scientist behind the study, said in a press release.

The researchers concluded that other factors from the database, including IQ, age of seizure onset, infantile spasms and atonic, generalized tonic clonic, absence, and complex partial seizures were not significant associations.