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Each of five brands of soy formula tested in Cincinnati, Ohio (Lancet 1997;350:23–7) contained appreciable amounts of isoflavone phyto-oestrogens. Plasma concentrations of these substances in seven soy formula fed 4 month olds were more than 200 times those found in babies fed on cows’ milk formula or breast milk. These concentrations are immensely higher than plasma oestradiol concentrations in infants. Whether this is harmful, beneficial, or neither is not known.

A US case-control study (Journal of the American Medical Association 1997;278:207–11) has for the first time shown an association between maternal infection and cerebral palsy in babies weighing over 2500 g at birth. One or more indicator of maternal infection was present in 3% of 378 controls and 22% of children who developed cerebral palsy after being born between 1983 and 1985. For those with spastic quadriplegia the maternal infection rate was 37%. Maternal infection was associated with low Apgar scores, neonatal …

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