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Soy Protein Intolerance Workup

  • Author: Stefano Guandalini, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
Updated: Nov 19, 2015

Other Tests

See the list below:

  • Soy-induced GI symptoms are not usually immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated; therefore, both skin tests and determination of specific IgE in serum have a low diagnostic value.
  • Radioallergosorbent assay test (RAST) appears to be of poor predictive value. Many children with positive results do not react to challenge tests.
  • Prick tests have little predictive value. The acidic subunits of glycinin and beta-conglycinin appear to be present in reduced amounts or absent in some commercial soybean skin test extracts tested by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and immunoblotting. As a consequence, these commercial extracts are less sensitive than extracts of soy flour.
  • Patch testing may provide more clinical relevant informations, particularly in children with eczema.
  • The role of atopy patch test in children with food allergies (including to soy) presenting with constipation has also been suggested.[21]
  • The challenge test with soy proteins, after an elimination diet, is the only reliable method of evaluating soy protein intolerance.



During the workup for differential diagnoses, upper or lower GI endoscopies are often performed in patients with soy protein intolerance. However, findings are nonspecific, most commonly minimal, and, at times, even completely unremarkable. Accordingly, and because of the transient nature of the disorder, endoscopies are not considered essential.


See the list below:

  • Macroscopically, only minimal erythematous changes may be observed.
  • Microscopically, any area (eg, lower esophagus, gastric body, antrum, duodenum) may or may not show signs of acute inflammation.
  • In a minority of patients, an infiltrate of eosinophils is observed.
  • When the clinical presentation is that of a malabsorption syndrome, the duodenal mucosa may have changes (eg, partial villous atrophy, crypt hyperplasia) indistinguishable from those of celiac disease.


See the list below:

  • Macroscopically, changes may vary from minimal erythematous segments, most commonly diffusely involving the distal colon, to severe inflammation with bleeding ulcers and loss of vascular markings.
  • Microscopically, nonspecific acute inflammatory changes are observed, typically indistinguishable from infectious colitis. Rarely, eosinophils predominate in the lamina propria.
Contributor Information and Disclosures

Stefano Guandalini, MD Founder and Medical Director, Celiac Disease Center, Chief, Section of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Department of Pediatrics, University of Chicago Medical Center; Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, University of Chicago Division of the Biological Sciences, The Pritzker School of Medicine

Stefano Guandalini, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Gastroenterological Association, North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, North American Society for the Study of Celiac Disease

Disclosure: Received consulting fee from AbbVie for consulting.


Agostino Nocerino, MD, PhD Chief of Pediatric Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Udine, Italy

Agostino Nocerino, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Italian Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Italian Society of Pediatric Emergency and Urgent Care Medicine, Italian Society of Pediatrics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

David A Piccoli, MD Chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Professor, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

David A Piccoli, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, American Gastroenterological Association, North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Carmen Cuffari, MD Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology/Nutrition, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Carmen Cuffari, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Gastroenterology, American Gastroenterological Association, North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Prometheus Laboratories for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Abbott Nutritionals for speaking and teaching.

Additional Contributors

Jorge H Vargas, MD Professor of Pediatrics and Clinical Professor of Pediatric Gastroenterology, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine; Consulting Physician, Department of Pediatrics, University of California at Los Angeles Health System

Jorge H Vargas, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Liver Foundation, Latin American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Typical atopic dermatitis on the face of an infant.
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