Genistin, a soy isoflavone found in soy formula, can reduce rotavirus infections in babies by as much as 74 percent according to a study by the University of Illinois. The study was published in the September issue of Journal of Nutrition.
"Rotavirus is the primary cause of diarrhea in infants, affecting virtually all children before age five," says Sharon Donvoan, professor of Nutrition at the University of Illinois. "In the United States, it mainly leads to dehydration, doctor’s visits, and parents missing work to care for sick children. In developing countries, though, rotavirus causes approximately 611,000 deaths each year."
In the study, funded by the Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Soybean Association, cultured cells were exposed to rotavirus with and without soy isoflavones. The presence of genistin significantly reduced infection. It appears to keep the virus from binding to the tissue-culture cells.
Donovan plans to continue the study using neonatal pigs, and is interested to see if the results remain consistent with the use of animals.