ISSN: 1697-090X


Indice del volumen
Volume index

Comité Editorial
Editorial Board

Comité Científico
Scientific Committee

Normas para los autores
Instruction to Authors

Derechos de autor Copyright


    Rev Electron Biomed / Electron J Biomed 2022;2: (in press)



    Elena Martínez Cuevas, MD, PhD.

    Especialista en Pediatría. Centro de Salud "Gamonal Antigua".
    Burgos. España

    Email: emartinezcue @

    Versión en Español

      The World Health Organisation (WHO) and health authorities (Spanish Association of Paediatrics, Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of an infant's life and thereafter, maintaining breastfeeding together with varied complementary feeding until at least two years of age 1-3.

      Given the absence of regular national data collection, the breastfeeding situation in Spain is difficult to describe. The most recent data are from the National Health Survey of 2006 and 2012, published by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), which shows that the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months was 24.72% in 2006, observing a slight increase to 28.53% in 2012 4.

      These data reveal how far we are from the internationally proposed targets, as the Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Infant and Young Child Nutrition (CIP), whose global target number 5 for 2025 envisages increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life to at least 50%5.

      The importance of breastfeeding for newborn health is that infants who are exclusively breastfed have a lower risk of respiratory infections, otitis media, atopic dermatitis, asthma, sudden death, leukaemia, among other pathologies, compared to formula-fed infants6-7. In addition, in the long term, several studies support the protective role of breastfeeding against the development of childhood obesity, diabetes, hypertension and metabolic syndrome7-10.

      One of the mechanisms associated with the protective role of breastfeeding is linked to the availability in breast milk of several hormones that influence body metabolism and development, such as leptin, ghrelin, adiponectin, resistin and obestatin. Leptin has an anorectic function, as it activates satiety signals and decreases the sensation of hunger, and higher levels have been found in breastfed infants 11. Gherlin is a hormone produced by the gastric mucosa, also found in breast milk, whose function is to increase intake (orexigenic effect). Adiponectin is a hormone produced by adipose tissue, whose function is to increase insulin sensitivity and increase fatty acid metabolism, with higher plasma concentrations found in breastfed infants than in formula fed infants 12.

      It has also been observed that breastfeeding affects fat distribution and that artificial formula within the first year of life can alter the normal trajectory of adiposity 13.

      In addition to the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding, there are other protective effects in the area of immunology and neurodevelopment.

      Thus, a new life stage has been typified that encompasses the foetal period and the first 2 years of life, called "The first 1000 days", and which focuses on feeding habits during this cycle, focusing on the benefit of breastfeeding over artificial formulas and the most appropriate approach for the introduction of complementary feeding, noting that many aspects of long-term health are influenced by these first 1000 days, including physical growth and metabolic programming.

      With respect to the factors that intervene in the duration of exclusive breastfeeding, it has been shown that problems in the newborn such as low birth weight, prematurity, birth by caesarean section and multiple births lead to a shorter duration of breastfeeding; in addition, some ethnic groups or emigrants see artificial feeding as an external sign of progress or wealth and therefore shorten this period 14-15.

      Also, younger age of mothers, families without a father figure, lower socioeconomic status, being primigravida and parents with low levels of education are conditions associated with shorter duration of exclusive breastfeeding 14.

      Another variable involved is the length of maternity leave for mothers in our country, which is shorter in comparison with other European countries, and it is the return to work that makes it difficult to continue exclusive breastfeeding16. his problem has been attributed to the lack of family reconciliation policies in our country, a drawback that could be overcome with the availability of breastfeeding rooms, more flexible working hours for breastfeeding mothers, an increase in the period of maternity leave, as well as the provision of childcare facilities attached to work.

      In tackling many of these barriers, the Maternal and Child Health teams of the Health Centres play an essential role, which carry out adequate monitoring of breastfeeding, recording data in clinical records and entering them in the quality measures; likewise, actions to support and promote breastfeeding should be developed by the National Health Systems.

      Therefore, the abandonment of exclusive breastfeeding could be prevented through good professional counselling as reflected17 in the Clinical Practice Guideline on breastfeeding of the Ministry of Health of 2017.

      Finally, it should be noted that progress in breastfeeding research is a priority and that it would be desirable for paediatricians, nurses and midwives to become involved in research in this field, which will have wide-ranging benefits for maternal and child health.


        1.- World Health Organization (WHO). Infant and young child nutrition. Geneva (Switzerland): WHO; 2003. Online: [consultado 25/087/2022]

        2.- Spanish Association of Paediatrics (AEP). Recommendations on breastfeeding from the breastfeeding committee of the Spanish Association of Paediatrics). default/files/recomendaciones lm 16-5-2014.pdf [consultado 25/087/2022]

        3.- European Commission Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection. Protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding in Europe: a blue print for action. http://www.aeped. es/sites/default/files/6-newblueprintprinter.pdf [consultado 25/087/2022]

        4.- Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs. National Institute of Statistics. National Health Survey 2012 [consultado 25/087/2022]

        5.- Comprehensive implementation plan on maternal, infant and young child nutrition. World Health Organization. WHO/NMH/NHD/14.1.

        6.- Morales E, García-Esteban R, Guxens M, et al. Effects of prolonged breastfeeding and colostrum fatty acids on allergic manifestations and infections in infancy. Clinical & Experimental Allergy. 2012; 42: 918-928.

        7.- Section of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics 2012; 129: e827.

        8.- Weiss R, Bremer AA, Lustig RH. What is metabolic syndrome, and why are children getting it? Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2013; 1281(1): 123-140.

        9.- de Armas MGG, Megías SM, Modino SC, Bolaños PI, Guardiola PD, Álvarez TM. Importancia de la lactancia materna en la prevalencia de síndrome metabólico y en el grado de obesidad infantil. Endocrinol y Nutr. 2009;56(8):400-3.

        10.- Rak K, Kornafel D, Bronkowska M. Longer Breastfeeding in Infancy Decreases Systolic Hypertension Risk in Young Adults. Polish J Food Nutr Sci. 2016; 66(3): 221-226.

        11.- Kontula K, Oksanen L, Koivisto VA, Koistinen HA, Andersson S, Teramo KA, et al. Leptin Concentration in Cord Blood Correlates with Intrauterine Growth*. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1997; 82(10): 3328-3330.

        12.- Martin LJ, Woo JG, Geraghty SR, Altaye M, Davidson BS, Banach W, et al. Adiponectin is present in human milk and is associated with maternal factors. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006; 83(5): 1106-1111.

        13.- Gale C, Parkinson JRC, Logan KM, Hyde MJ, Santhakumaran S, Modi N. Effect of breastfeeding compared with formula feeding on infant body composition: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012; 95(3): 656-669.

        14.- Li R, Fein SB, Chen J, et al. Why mothers stop breastfeeding: mothers' selfreported reasons for stopping during the first year. Pediatrics. 2008; 122: S69.

        15.- Hernández Aguilar MT, Lasarte Velilla JJ, Muñoz Guillén A,Díaz Marijuan C, Martín Calama J. Epidemiología de la Latancia Materna. Análisis de 6000 lactantes en la Comunidad Valenciana. Rev Pediatr Aten Primaria. 2004; 21: 19-37.

        16.- Oribe M, Lertxundia A, Basterrecheaa M, Begiristaina H, Marina L, Villara M, Dorronsoroa M, Amiano P, Ibarluzea J. Prevalencia y factores asociados con la duración de la lactancia materna exclusiva durante los 6 primeros meses en la cohorte INMA de Guipúzcoa. Gac Sanit. 2015; 29(1): 4-9.

        17.- Grupo de trabajo de la Guía de Práctica Clínica sobre lactancia materna. Guía de Práctica Clínica sobre lactancia materna. Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad; Agencia de Evaluación de Tecnologías Sanitarias del País Vasco-OSTEBA, 2017. Guías de Práctica Clínica en el SNS.

      Dr. Elena Martínez Cuevas
      Centro de Salud "Gamonal Antigua"
      Avda. Derechos Humanos 1,
      09007 Burgos