Semana mundial de la lactancia materna

Del 1° al 7 de agosto se celebra en más de 120 países la Semana Mundial de la Lactancia Materna, destinada a fomentar la lactancia materna, o natural, y a mejorar la salud de los bebés de todo el mundo.

Según la Alianza Mundial pro Lactancia Materna, coordinadora de los eventos, la lactancia natural es el mejor modo de proporcionar al recién nacido los nutrientes que necesita. La Organización Mundial de la Salud la recomienda como modo exclusivo de alimentación hasta los seis meses de edad.

La lactancia materna es la forma ideal de aportar a los niños pequeños los nutrientes que necesitan para un crecimiento y desarrollo saludables. Prácticamente todas las mujeres pueden amamantar, siempre que dispongan de buena información y del apoyo de su familia y del sistema de atención de salud.

La Organización Mundial de la Salud recomienda el calostro (la leche amarillenta y espesa que se produce al final del embarazo) como el alimento perfecto para el recién nacido, y su administración debe comenzar en la primera hora de vida. Se recomienda la lactancia exclusivamente materna durante los primeros 6 meses de vida. Después debe complementarse con otros alimentos hasta los dos años.

La lactancia materna es una de las formas más eficaces de asegurar la salud y la supervivencia de los niños. La administración de alimentos que no consistan exclusivamente en leche materna durante los primeros seis meses de vida contribuye a más de un millón de muertes infantiles anuales.

Los menores de seis meses alimentados exclusivamente con leche materna no llegan al 40%. Un apoyo adecuado a las madres y a las familias para que inicien y mantengan la lactancia materna podría salvar la vida de muchos pequeños.

La Organización Mundial de la Salud fomenta activamente la lactancia materna como la mejor fuente de nutrientes para los lactantes y niños pequeños. Conocé sus múltiples beneficios y cómo la ayuda a las madres puede aumentar la lactancia materna en todo el mundo.

 

¿Por qué no la leche artificial?

La leche artificial no contiene los anticuerpos presentes en la leche materna y conlleva riesgos como las enfermedades transmitidas por el agua utilizada para reconstituir la leche (muchas familias no tienen acceso a agua salubre). Una dilución excesiva con el fin de ahorrar puede acabar produciendo malnutrición. Por otro lado, las tomas frecuentes mantienen la producción de leche materna y, en caso de que se utilice leche artificial pero esta deje de estar disponible, puede resultar imposible volver a la lactancia materna debido a la disminución de la producción materna.

 

El alimento ideal

La leche materna es ideal para los recién nacidos y lactantes, pues les aporta todos los nutrientes que necesitan para un desarrollo sano. Además es inocua y contiene anticuerpos que ayudan a proteger al lactante de enfermedades frecuentes como la diarrea y la neumonía, que son las dos causas principales de mortalidad infantil en todo el mundo. La leche materna es fácil de conseguir y asequible, lo cual ayuda a garantizar que el lactante tenga suficiente alimento.

La lactancia materna también beneficia a la madre. La lactancia exclusivamente materna suele producir amenorrea, que es un método natural (aunque no totalmente seguro) de control de la natalidad. Reduce el riesgo de cáncer de mama y ovario en fases posteriores de la vida, ayuda a la madre a recuperar más rápidamente su peso anterior al embarazo y reduce las tasas de obesidad.

Además de los beneficios inmediatos para el niño, la lactancia materna contribuye a mantener una buena salud durante toda la vida. Los adultos que de pequeños tuvieron lactancia materna suelen tener una tensión arterial más baja, menos colesterol y menores tasas de sobrepeso, obesidad y diabetes de tipo 2. También hay datos que indican que las personas que tuvieron lactancia materna obtienen mejores resultados en las pruebas de inteligencia.

Para que el crecimiento, el desarrollo y la salud sean óptimos, hay que alimentar a los lactantes exclusivamente con leche materna durante los seis primeros meses de vida. Por «lactancia materna exclusiva» se entiende no proporcionar al lactante ningún alimento ni bebida (ni siquiera agua) que no sea la leche materna. Se puede, no obstante, darle gotas o jarabes (vitaminas, minerales y medicamentos). La leche materna es el alimento idóneo para el crecimiento y el desarrollo sano del bebé; además, la lactancia materna forma parte del proceso reproductivo, y tiene importantes repercusiones para la salud de las madres.

La transición desde la lactancia materna exclusiva hasta el consumo de los alimentos de la familia es un periodo delicado. Es la época en la que muchos niños pequeños comienzan a padecer problemas de nutrición, lo que contribuye sobremanera a la elevada prevalencia de la malnutrición entre los niños menores de cinco años en todo el mundo. Es fundamental, entonces, que los niños pequeños reciban alimentos complementarios apropiados, suficientes y seguros para que el paso de la lactancia a la alimentación familiar se produzca sin problemas.

 

Fuente: organización mundial de la salud

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