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July 14, 1999

Lactose-Free Soy-Based Baby Formula Recommended for Treatment of Diarrhea

Infants with an acute diarrhea episode had less diarrhea for a shorter amount of time when they received soy-based formulas containing sucrose instead of soy-based formulas with lactose according to a study which appeared in the July 15, 1999, issue of Archives of Pediatrics.

Senior author, Mathuram Santosham, MD, MPH, director of the Center for American Indian Health, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, said, "The World Health Organization recommends that children continue their normal diets during diarrheal episodes but what those diets should consist of is still being debated."

The researchers followed 172 males ages 3 months to 18 months, who were admitted to the hospital with acute diarrhea and signs of dehydration. Only males were included to make separation of urine output from diarrhea easier. After receiving re-hydration treatment, the boys were randomly assigned either a soy-based formula with lactose or one with sucrose. The amount of formula given and the child's output (stool, urine, and vomit) were measured every three hours until the diarrhea subsided.

The study showed that 17% of the children drinking the lactose-containing formula had a recurrence of dehydration compared to a six percent with the sucrose-containing formula. Likewise, more than twice as many children (55%) experienced vomiting after receiving the formula containing lactose than those getting the sucrose formula (24%).

Support for this study was provided by a grant from Wyeth-Ayerst Research.

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham @ 410-955-6878 or