In 1962, when Anita Knight’s son, slightly over a year old, was diagnosed with a lactose intolerance, the doctor prescribed soy-based (Neo-Mulsoy) infant formula. Within a week of being on the soy-based infant formula, the baby was vomiting and had severe diarrhea.
Anita wrote, “I changed his bedding and diapers about five times during the night. The next morning I awoke, shocked to find him sitting up in the crib with a dead expression on his face. He looked like a frail little old man because he had lost most of his body fluids. Terrified, I called the doctor who immediately admitted him to the hospital. My baby was so dehydrated that they strapped him to an infant-sized wooden board, put intravenous needles into his arms and legs, and fed him fluids and nutrients.
“A week later, he was so near death that I was called to the hospital from work. The pediatrician realized that my son had suffered a reaction to the soy formula and recommended a diet consisting of only mashed bananas. After another week, he was well enough to come home. The diagnosis was gastroenteritis.”
In 1989, Anita read an article in the local newspaper saying that the St. Petersburg City Council had scheduled a meeting to discuss fluoridation of drinking water. An intriguing statement by retired dentist Dr. Herbert Robinson, a pioneering fluoride researcher (and now an opponent of fluoridation), prompted Anita to attend the meeting. It changed her life and she embarked on a period of research that continues to this day.
During her studies, Anita came across an article which was very relevant to her family and her new interest. It said: “Following an American Dental Association meeting, the manufacturers of infant formula realized the need to monitor and, in certain cases, reduce the fluoride ion concentration in their products. . .”1 The article said that fluoride concentrations in soy-based infant formula were consistently higher than in milk-based products. Realizing that her son had exhibited classic indicators of severe fluorine poisoning, Anita worked even harder at her research.
A February 1972 article in Prevention Magazine, “How Airborne Fluorides Can Poison Foods” made for even more disturbing reading. It said: “It was in 1968 that the toxic organic fluoride compounds—fluoroacetate and fluorocitrate—were detected in soy beans that had been fumigated with hydrogen fluoride gas. . .” There was no monitoring of fluoride levels in the soy infant formula at the time Anita’s son was poisoned. 2,3,4,5,6,7,8
Other studies from 1968 revealed that fluoroacetate and fluorocitrate were more than 500 times more toxic than inorganic fluorides. Unfortunately, most prominent researchers and toxicologists continue to base the toxicity of fluoride in soybeans—and of most species of fluorides—on that of sodium fluoride. They do not take into account any interactions or compound effects. In the case of Anita’s son, the toxic organic fluorides may have triggered a physical chain reaction that caused the overall effects of the toxicants in the soy-based infant formula to become potentiated. However, as long as researchers refuse to consider these possibilities, further progress will never be made.
Subsequently, researchers testing the organic fluorides extracted from soy beans discovered that they disrupt carbohydrate metabolism. Later studies found that fluorocitrate and fluoroacetate produce neurotoxic effects and kidney, liver and reproductive damage in animals. 9,10
Fluoroacetate is a natural form of the slightly more toxic sodium fluoroacetate, also known as the notorious rodent poison Compound 1080. When ingested and metabolized, fluoroacetate is transformed in cells to fluorocitrate—a strong enzyme inhibitor. Fluorocitric acid blocks the tricarboxylic acid cycle, an essential mechanism of energy production in mammalian cells.
Compound 1080 is also known as “the poison that keeps on killing.” In other words, the cat that ate the rat that was poisoned by 1080 has forfeited all its nine lives. For a time, 1080 was banned in the United States. Today, it can only be used by licensed exterminators, but environmentalists continue to oppose its use.
For thirty years, Anita believed that she was responsible for her son’s health problems. “When he developed chronic gastroenteritis, I thought it was all my fault.” She recalls that he was ridiculed because of his fluorosed teeth. “I remember walking into the bathroom and watching Charlie trying to scrape the stains off his teeth with a sewing needle. People asked him if he ever brushed his teeth. Now that I know more, I am even more concerned for Charlie’s health.”
Revelations about the dangers of soy infant formula were discussed within the scientific community for ten years before any action was taken by the American Dental Association. Anita wonders how many children died or still suffer today, like Charlie. “I find it difficult to believe that prominent researchers remained silent. They knew that babies were dying and many of those that didn’t die would suffer dental fluorosis and other dreadful, life-long effects because their mothers gave them soy infant formula.”
Today, Anita believes that it was the toxic organic fluorides that triggered the acute reaction because they are known to interfere with enzyme functions.
Journals regularly publish new findings about soy infant formula. It is now known that the product contains high concentrations of aluminum, an acknowledged neurotoxic substance. Current research links the aluminum/fluoride combination with neurotoxicity and kidney damage.
Other problem areas include: phytates, which block the body’s uptake of minerals; enzyme inhibitors, which hinder protein digestion; and haemagglutinin, which causes red blood cells to clump together and inhibits oxygen take-up and growth. Soy also contains high levels of the phytoestrogens (also known as isoflavones) genistein and daidzein, which mimic and sometimes block the hormone estrogen.
Charlie, who nearly died in infancy after being fed soy infant formula for one week, will carry a legacy throughout his life—dental fluorosis, severe and chronic gastroenteritis and bone problems.
- DG, Pendrys, JW, Stamm, Relationship of Total Fluoride Intake to Beneficial Effects and Enamel Fluorosis, Journal of Dental Research, Special Issue, International Symposium on Fluorides, Vol. 69, Feb. 1990. The article noted there said the soy-based infant formulas were as high as 7.34 ppm and the ADA met with manufacturers, said they needed to lower fluorides in both soy-based and infant formulas.
- LH Weinstein, Boyce Thompson Institute, 24:1961.
- J Lovelace, et al, Atmospheric Environment, 2:1968.
- JY Cheng, et al, Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 2:1968.
- MH Yu, GW Miller, Environmental Science and Technology, 4: 492, 1970.
- LH Weinstein, et al, Studies on Fluoro-Organic Compounds in Plants, Environmental Research, Vol 5. 1972.
- DC McCune, LH Weinstein, Metabolic Effects Of Atmospheric Fluorides On Plants, Environmental Pollution, Vol. 1 1971
- SN Braen, LH Weinstein, Uptake Of Fluoride and Aluminum By Plants Grown in Contaminated Soils, Water, Air and Soil Pollution, 24:1985
- Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, N.M. Gleason, et al, Eds., (Williams and Wilkins, Blatimor, 1969).
- (Poisoning from Soy sauce) Meyer, J. J. M.; Grobbelaar, N.; Steyn, P. L. (1990) Fluoroacetate metabolizing pseudomonad isolated from Dichapetalum cymosum. Applied Environmental Microbiology 56 (7, Jul):2152-2155
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2001.