Thank you to those who attended this special one-day conference on the Effects of Soy in Chicago. This event attracted nearly 100 delegates who had interest in discussing children's health and soyfoods.
Research on the health effects of soy and soybean constituents has increased dramatically over the past 15 years. Most of this work has focused on the prevention of chronic diseases and on the health of postmenopausal women in particular. And yet, children represent an important segment of the population with the potential to benefit most from the health attributes of soyfoods. However, children are also more vulnerable than adults to environmental influences and this is especially true in early life, such as during gestation and in infancy where growth and development occur at the most rapid rate. These periods of rapid development provide a "milieu" for potential beneficial or adverse environmental influences. Thus, it is rather surprising that little research into the health effects of soy has been conducted on the early life of children, especially since infants who are fed soy formula consume more soy protein on a body weight basis than any other segment of the population.
This lack of research may be because the short-term or long-term health outcomes of children fed soy formula, milk formula or breast milk appear to be identical. In addition, there is a lack of reported adverse effects in young Asian children and the offspring of Asian mothers who consumed soy during pregnancy. However, while there have been no longitudinal clinical studies into the health effects of early soy exposure, there have been many potentially relevant reports from in vitro and animal studies outlining the biological effects of soybeans and various soybean constituents.
This one-day workshop is intended to explore the current knowledge relevant to the effects of soy on growth and development, and to identify important health issues related to early soy exposure, and the research needs aimed at resolving unanswered questions. The workshop will include both oral and poster presentations.