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Contraception. 1984 Dec; 30(6):505-22.The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted a randomized comparative trail of th effects of hormonal contrception on milk volume and infant growth. The 341 study participants, drawn from 3 obstetric centers in Hungary and Thailand, were 20-35 years of age with 2-4 live births and previous successful experience with breastfeeding. Subjects who chose oral contraception (OC) were randomly allocated to a combined preparation containing 150 mcg levonorgestrel and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol (N=86) or to a progestin-only minipill containing 75 mcg dl-norgestrel (N=8). 59 Thai women receiving 150 mg depot medroxyprogesterone (DPMA) intramuscularly every 3 months were also studied. An additional 111 women who were using nonhormonal methods of contraception or no contraception served as controls. Milk volume was determined by breast pump expression. No significant differences in average milk volume were noted between treatment groups at the 6 week baseline visit. However, between the 6th and 24th weeks, average milk volume in the combined OC group declined by 41.9%, which was significantly greater than the declines of 12.0% noted in the progestin-only group, 6.1% among DMPA users, and 16.7% among controls. The lower expressed milk volume among combined OC users did not impair infant growth. No significant differences were observed between treatment groups in terms of average infant body weight or rate or weight gain. Users of combined OCs may have compensated for their decreased milk volume by providing more extensive supplementary feeding or more prolonged suckling episodes. These results suggest that the estrogen content of combined OCs adversely affects the capacity of the breast to produce milk; thus, family planning programs should make nonestrogen-containing methods available to breastfeeding mothers. Although no effects on infant growth were noted in this study, the possibility of such efects cannot be excluded in populations where infant growth largely depends on the adequacy of unsupplemente d lactation.
In: Programmes to promote breastfeeding, edited by Derrick B. Jelliffe and E. F. Patrice Jelliffe. Oxford, England, Oxford University Press, 1988. 235-47.The work of the WHO in promoting, monitoring, researching, and regulating breastfeeding and infant nutrition is reviewed. WHO has always fostered infant nutrition, but took up the subject of breastfeeding in 1974 at its 27th World Health Assembly with an expression of concern for decline of the practice. Breastfeeding is a learned behavior in humans that must be supported and reinforced: secular factors are converging to decrease breastfeeding in most of the world. The 1974 assembly set up a working group to initiate research, to collect data on infant nutrition and breastfeeding practices, composition of breast milk in different socioeconomic milieu, methods of conducting controlled studies on mortality in relation to feeding, and effects of hormonal contraceptives on lactation. 3 distinct patterns of feeding were found, among the urban poor, economically advantaged, and rural mothers. A 1979 meeting concluded that monitoring of feeding practices is necessary to set up national programs Training workshops were held and instructive materials were developed. Papers presented at the meeting were published. WHO with UNICEF are promoting the health and social status of mothers, such as nutrition, maternity protection, and support of women's organizations. WHO is collaborating with the International Labor Office (ILO) to survey maternity protection in 129 countries. A final issue being addressed is the infant food industry. In 1985, the World Health Assembly reported that the International Code of Marketing, involving labeling, marketing and regulation of infant foods, has been adopted wholly or in part by 141 countries.
POSTGRADUATE MEDICAL JOURNAL. 1986; 62(724):93-6.Breastfeeding has been on the decline in the 3rd world for the past 20 years or so. Modernization has been blamed, yet in the industrialized nations of Sweden, Britain, and the US, women play significant roles in the labor force, are active in professional and public life, and in most Western nations the educated women and those from the professional and upper classes are most likely to breastfeed their babies. Regarding milk substitutes, many products unacceptable in the Western market are on sale in developing nations. In the absence of strong governmental controls, consumer pressure, and professional vigilance, bottle feeding is taken lightly with disasterous consequences. 3 main dangers have been identified: those arising from the nonavailability of protective substances of breast milk to the infant; those arising from the contamination of the feed in a highly polluted environment of poverty and ignorance of simple principles of hygiene; and those arising from overdilution of feeds on the account of the costs of the baby foods. Market forces and competition led the manufacturers of baby foods to stake their claims to the markets of the 3rd world, and almost all of them adopted undesirable promotional methods. The ensuing uproar led to an International Code of Ethics being adopted at the 33rd world Health Assembly under the auspices of the World Health Organization. Although the matter should have rested there, some manufacturers developed their own codes and have persuaded governments to adopt alternative codes. The present situation with regard to infant feeding in the 33rd world should be considered in the context of the international developments identified and also in light of several social and demographic processes. At the current rates of growth in population up to 80% of humanity will be living in the 3rd world by the end of the 20th century. The 2nd demographic phenomenon of social and political significance is the unprecedented increase in the growth of the urban population with national health and social services failing to respond adequately to the challenge of this growth. In many developing countries national planners and economists are beginning to look upon human milk as an important national resource, and the need for a network of services to ensure the nutrition and health of pregnant and lactating women is obvious and is recognized internationally. With regard to the question of adequacy of breast milk, there are many gaps in knowledge. Each community needs to be studied separately, and those involved in scientific research in 1 environment should resist the temptation of extrapolating the results to communities and societies with a different set of circumstances.