Does Baby Formula Have Fructose?

Controversy abounds when it comes to high-fructose corn syrup and the danger it poses to your health.

So when you read “corn syrup solids” in the list of ingredients of your baby’s formula, you might wonder if you’re feeding your child something harmful. You can relax. Infant formula is highly regulated in the U.S. and manufacturers are constantly reevaluating their products to match them as closely as possible to human breast milk. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as the preferred method of supplying your baby's nutritional needs, infant formulas can provide all your baby needs during her first few months of life.


Fructose, the natural sugar in fruits and vegetables, is healthy and safe for your baby. Researchers have recently discovered the benefits of fructo-oligosaccharides, a long chain of fructose molecules bound together. These fructo-oligosaccharides, or FOS, are known as prebiotics that provide a healthy environment for the good bacteria in your baby’s gut. A 2008 study, reported in the “Journal of Nutrition,” found that infants who were given a formula supplemented with FOS had similar amounts of good bacteria in their feces as breastfed infants.

These good bacteria help protect your baby from infections and illnesses. They also keep bowel movements regular, so your baby is less likely to suffer from diarrhea or constipation.

FDA Regulations

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration strictly regulates infant formula because it is considered a food and is the sole source of nutrition for young infants.

The FDA has requirements for 29 nutrients that must be included in infant formula, including protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Exemptions include formulas for infants with rare metabolic disorders or babies who need additional calories for proper growth.

All ingredients in infant formula must meet the FDA’s generally recognized as safe, or GRAS, requirements.

The most common carbohydrate sources for infant formula include lactose, sucrose, corn syrup solids or corn maltodextrin. Fructose may be found in corn syrup.

Cow’s Milk-Based Formulas

Most cow’s milk-based infant formulas contain lactose as the source of carbohydrate. Few, if any, contain fructose as a carbohydrate source.

Breast milk contains lactose, known as the milk sugar.

Most infants tolerate lactose without any problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP, recommends cow’s milk-based formulas for infants when breastfeeding is not possible.

Soy-Based Formulas

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Some infant formulas, mostly soy-based, contain corn syrup solids or corn maltodextrin, which are different than high-fructose corn syrup. Other manufacturers use corn syrup to replace lactose, which contains fructose.

The AAP recommends using soy formula only if your baby has galactosemia, hereditary lactose intolerance, which is rare, or if you prefer a vegetarian diet. Soy formula is safe to give your baby in these cases; however, you should not give your baby soy-based formula if she is a preemie because it may cause her to have low bone density.