3 Times More ADHD in Kids Fed Soy Formula, Says Health Ministry

varieties of raw soybeans. In my last post, I wrote about the problems faced by children who drank faulty Remedia soy formula as infants.

It turns out that the Remedia children have a high rate of ADHD, three times higher than the general population. This came out in a study conducted by the Israeli Health Ministry, amid accusations that the ministry has been stalling about publishing their results. What is really surprising, though, is that the levels were equally high in all children fed soy formula.

The health ministry studied 500 5-year-olds. Children who had drunk Remedia formula without B1 for at least a month were compared to children who had other brands of soy formula, cow’s milk formula, or were breastfed. Researchers learned that children who drank soy formula—of any kind—were 3 times more likely to have ADHD than the other groups. There was no difference in the rates of ADHD between the Remedia children, and the ones fed other brands of soy. And 13-25% of the children fed soy formula suffered from some kind of sensory disorder, compared to 2.8% of the children breastfed or fed cow’s milk formula. The basic facts about the ADHD findings appear here, but the print edition of Yediot contains more details (relayed to me by a friend, I haven’t seen it yet).

So in this study, the ADHD and sensory disorders are associated with soy formula and not lack of Vitamin B1. The ministry cautioned the public not to read too much into the results. Some of the babies may have been switched to soy formula because of their symptoms, explaining the higher numbers. Or maybe ADHD babies are more prone to allergies? Most doctors recommend soy formula if the baby shows symptoms of allergies to cow’s milk formula. A breastfed baby can be sensitive to cow’s milk that the mother eats, but symptoms are usually less severe and will stop if the mother goes on a dairy-free diet. Allergy symptoms, as can sensory issues, can be vague  and hard to diagnose accurately.  Lactose intolerance is extremely rare in babies.

I suspect these findings were published today as a smoke screen to deflect attention from the health ministry’s failings in this area, with the concern that the Remedia formula affected so many children. It sounds like there may be more damning findings by the Ministry, yet to be released.

Related posts:

Report: Widespread Damage to Remedia Babies, 7 Years Later

Breastfeeding and Introduction of Solid Foods: New Guidelines from the Israel Health Ministry

Flaws in Study of Breastfeeding and Dairy Allergy


  1. This is very interesting… and very sad! Really though, anyone who knows absolutely anything at all about biology and metabolism should know that you can not replace a dairy with a vegetable. and furthermore, the lame attempt to add “vitamins and minerals” to a vegetable to make it like a dairy doesn’t equal in any way a dairy. that’s pretty basic. The problem of course, if that the average person doesn’t know this… and the formula companies can easy persuade it (as it once did me!) Convince a customer they have no other alternative, and suddenly their highly inferior product becomes demanded and people are even willing to pay a higher price for the inferior product. It’s the basics of supply and demand, only this one effects the livelihood of people. The problem can easily be fixed on paper when you briefly look at the “facts” of the mineral/fat/sugar/vitamin ratios. the problem lies in how it is absorbed, digested and metabolized. That said, when a company leaves out a major vitamin such a B1 (one most foundational of vitamins!) you can clearly see this isn’t about health… this is about money. A company who cares so much about “colicy” or lactose intolerant babies (which is what this product is aimed at) would make extra sure that their product was always fitting up to the highest of standards. Ethically this is equal to a mother purposefully withholding food to a child – only worse, perhaps… because it is from selfish desire to make money that an entire company misleads and leaves out primary ingredients to the life sustaining nutrients that the weakest most vulnerable of our species suffers. The inhumanity is just sick. and it’s even sicker that many of us have no idea how sick it is. and we actually think highly of formula and low of our own milk. We have fallen to far into this lie that we not only believe it hook line and sinker, but we protect and defend it! how many more children must die or become ill before we stand up and demand better of ourselves and formula companies?

    … you know… not that I have a strong opinion about it anything 😉

    • Cow’s milk isn’t good for you. It does not reduce the incidence of osteoporosis. The benefits of it are greatly exaggerated by the Dairy Industry. I’m definitely not a fan of soy formula either. (Human milk for human babies!) But I had to respond to your vehement support for dairy.

  2. Michael Makovi says

    One way or the other, it shows that ADHD is some kind of genetic or neurological or nutritional disorder, and not something that is invented by negligent parents. Whether soy milk causes ADHD, or whether ADHD and allergies are related, either way, ADHD is apparently something biological.

    I hope this will shut the naysayers up. I’m not saying that doctors do not sometimes make a mistaken diagnosis or overprescribe medication. But to say that ADHD is entirely fictitious and invented, infuriates me, because I myself have ADHD, and I’m rather offended when someone wants to deprive me of what treated me and tell me instead that it was all specious.

  3. I agree with you that this was published to take attention away from the health ministry’s failings with the remedia issue.
    As I wrote on FB, this freaks me out because my child with ADHD was the only child who had formula and it was soy. When he was 7 months old I stopped pumping milk (because I was sick all the time) and he got soy formula at day care. I nursed him when I was home. It makes me sick to think that the ADHD is due to something I did to him/

  4. ELLE:

    “anyone who knows absolutely anything at all about biology and metabolism should know that you can not replace a dairy with a vegetable”

    have you ever watched a baby become engulfed in hives and gasp for air? dairy allergies are also part of “biology”

    • Ms. Krieger says

      I agree with Abba – breastmilk is not a dairy product.

      Soy formula is not replacing a dairy product, it is replacing a human product that is imperfectly understood and imperfectly replicated.

  5. wow, this is really sad. I feel so badly for these children and for their mothers… I’ve nursed all my kids, but I don’t think I ever really understood how important it was until I read this.

  6. Nurse Yachne says

    What Elle MEANS, Abba,& Mrs. Krieger, is not that use of soy formula in case of medical need is some sort of unpardonable sin, but that the most preferable option, mother’s milk, is also the safest and most logical.

    I was shocked to hear from some friends who work at Tipat Chalav that there are parents who give their babies soy formula “for kashrut reasons”. Come again? Not only is this not breast milk, the physiological nutrient of choice, but it is at lest one step further away from the next best alternative ,which is a dairy-based formula. What were these people thinking? Opting for soy formula over milk-based should only be done in consultation with a physician, and if these folks worry so much about their baby’s kashrut observance, please note that Moshe Rabenu was makpid to eat only from a Jewish wetnurse. No soy formula for him!

    Breast is best, not because of the ideology involved, but because there are fewer risk factors involved and a lot of side-benefits to be gained. I am adamantly opposed to guilt-tripping mothers who make an informed choice not to breastfeed, but that choice is not without its risks and disadvantages. You may not find out that your baby is milk-intolerant until it’s too late.

    By the way, there is a lactose-free, non-soy Materna available.

    One of the formulas necessary for babies with particular absorbtion problems, Pregestamil, is, in fact, treif, but babies who thrive only on this would die otherwise, and therefore it is not only permitted but halachically obligatory in case of need.

    • “not that use of soy formula in case of medical need is some sort of unpardonable sin, but that the most preferable option, mother’s milk, is also the safest and most logical.” Yes.

    • Ms. Krieger says

      Nurse Yachne,

      I have been told that breastmilk is considered pareve.
      Or am I misunderstanding the families’ motivations? Do you mean that these are people who would formula-feed anyway, and so choose a bean-based formula over dairy?

  7. Nurse Yachne says

    Breastmilk is considered pareve, yes. It’s treif for one over weaning age, though, and all treif, when it must be eaten, is pareve.

    The parents in question would prefer to formula-feed anyway, and choose a soy-based formula over dairy for kashrut reasons, often chalav yisrael. But soy formula is not as good as dairy formula, being even further away from the ideal, which would be breastmilk.

    My question is why, if kashrut (and we’re talking about chumrot here) is the issue, wouldn’t they make the sacrifice to go for breastmilk?

    Their logic is seriously off, especially when a baby’s health is concerned.

    • Nurse Yachne,
      I have never seen a source claiming that breastmilk is treif (not kosher). As far as I understand, after weaning age (4-5), it’s fine to drink breast milk from a cup.
      The orthodox are subject to the same marketing that everyone else is, and they go to the same doctors. In fact, because of the high birth rate, they are marketed to even more heavily with an emphasis on kashruth.

  8. Some-time luker, first time commenter. I am health-care professional and a mom of four breast-fed kids. I truly do not understand why so many religious Jewish mothers do not breastfeed, and I applaud you for writing about it. The more people talk about breastfeeding, the more babies will be breastfed. As far as dairy vs. soy goes, I have two comments to make. One–we are genetically much closer to cows than soybeans. Cow milk, while not ideal for human babies, is closer nutritionally to human milk than soy milk can ever be. If you must give formula, dairy is preferable. However, in case of dairy allergy, of course you would use soy. Two–something to keep in mind is that about half of all people who truly are allergic to dairy are also allergic to soy.
    Now a question–is the issue with dairy formula and kashrut that it is not Chalav Yisrael? That washing bottles with meat dishes becomes a problem? That feeding baby dairy formula after a meat meal (for older babies) is an issue? I am really curious. Thanks!

    • Bklyn mom: Thanks for delurking. I don’t know for sure why people prefer pareve, but all of your guesses make sense. There is chalav yisrael formula here, marketed to help your son grow up to be a ben Torah. I don’t know about your daughters, though. Maybe they need two different types.

  9. Regular Anonymous says

    My dairy formula fed DD has ADHD. I think it’s not such an easy cause and effect scenario.

    Most mothers do the best they can for their kids.

    Yes, we all know that breat is best, but it’s not always possible.

  10. Nurse Yachne says

    Regular Anonymous wrote:
    “My dairy formula fed DD has ADHD. I think it’s not such an easy cause and effect scenario….Yes, we all know that breat is best, but it’s not always possible.”

    Bravo, absolutely! And considering that for many women, bottle feeding is the second choice, we ought to consider that their options may be limited in many other particulars as well, and should be compassionate and charitable.

    You are also right that ADD is not “a simple cause and effect scenario”. If it were, we would have a universal solution already, and clearly we don’t.

  11. Wow, this is pretty big news. I’m actually surprised I didn’t read or hear about this study until now as I do a lot of research on ADHD.


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