If you are a women who has been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, you might just have your mother to blame. And not because of genetics, but because of the formula she gave you as a baby.
A new study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that women who were fed soy-based infant formula as babies are 25 percent more likely to develop uterine fibroids than those who were breastfed or given milk-based formula.
Uterine fibroids affect about 25 percent of all women in the U.S. They are noncancerous tumors in the uterus that can cause pelvic pain, heavy bleeding and reproductive problems. They are also the leading cause of hysterectomy. According to this study, exposure to soy estrogens early in life is associated with the development of fibroids later in life.
Soy-based formulas have been around for the past few decades. They are growing in popularity as the choice for parents wishing to avoid dairy products due to allergies or colicky behavior. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends soy-based infant formula only in a small number of situations, yet soy formula accounts for about 20 percent of the U.S. formula market. Many parents believe soy-based formula is healthier than milk-based formula, even though there is no proof it prevents colic or allergies.
The results of this study are preliminary, and obviously a lot more research needs to be done before health experts can uncover the links between soy-based formula and an infant's development into adulthood. But for now, it's just one more piece of information for women who either have a history of uterine fibroids, or are considering soy formula for their own children.