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The World Health Organization multinational study of breast-feeding and lactational amenorrhea. II. Factors associated with the length of amenorrhea.
Fertility and Sterility. 1998 Sep; 70(3):461-471.The objective was to determine the relation between infant feeding practices (and other factors) and the duration of postpartum amenorrhea, and to establish whether there are real differences in the duration of postpartum amenorrhea for similar breast-feeding practices in different populations. Design: Prospective, nonexperimental, longitudinal follow-up study. Setting: Five developing and two developed countries. Patient(s): Four thousand one hundred eighteen breast-feeding mothers and their infants. Breast-feeding women collected ongoing information about infant feeding and family planning practices, plus the return of menses. Fortnightly follow-up occurred in the women's homes. A multivariate analysis explored the association between the risk of menses return and 16 infant feeding variables and 11 other characteristics. Ten factors (in addition to center effects) were significantly related to the duration of amenorrhea. Seven of these were infant feeding characteristics and the remaining three were high parity, low body mass index, and a higher frequency of infant illness. The breast-feeding stimulus is strongly linked to the duration of postpartum amenorrhea. Cross-cultural effects also are extremely important and may have caused the variations in feeding, the variation in amenorrhea, or both. (author's)
The promotion of the lactational amenorrhea method and child spacing through breastfeeding advocates, Contract No. OR-HO-001.
[Unpublished] . vii, 44 p. (HON-05)In Honduras, a decreasing prevalence of exclusive breast feeding, with over 50% of infants given supplemental liquids during the first 30 days, was causing health risks for the infants and pregnancy risks for the mothers (with 49% at risk within a year of giving birth). Therefore, La Leche League Honduras (LLLH) conducted an operations research study in the Las Palmas neighborhoods of San Pedro Sula to evaluate whether the combination of medical personnel and mother support groups trained in lactation and the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) for child spacing would increase prevalence and duration of exclusive breast feeding, amenorrhea, and the reported use of LAM at 6 months postpartum over that found in a community served only by trained medical personnel. This project received financing in the amount of US $20,250 from Georgetown University and technical assistance from the Population Council. Specific objectives were to train at least 50 physicians, provide updated information to at least 50 nurses through a workshop, train and certify at least 36 community mothers to serve as breastfeeding advocates (BAs) with specific information on LAM and the ability to make referrals to complementary family planning (FP) services, and initiate at least 6 mother support groups which would meet monthly throughout the year-long study period of 1991. A nonequivalent pre/post-test design was used with the experimental group receiving BA training and support groups and both the control and experimental groups receiving identical training of medical staff. A July 1990 survey of the 6,794 households in the project area revealed 1083 mothers of babies less than a year old and 630 pregnant women. 848 women from this group were interviewed at baseline and 922 at endline to determine socioeconomic status, health system affiliation, reproductive history, breastfeeding and infant feeding practices, contraceptive use, and LAM knowledge and attitudes. Focus groups were held after 3 months of service delivery for qualitative evaluation, interviews were conducted, and 4 mother support groups were observed. BAs were given record-keeping forms, and referral stubs were collected. This report described the implementation of project activities and the impact of the intervention in great detail. The results suggest that training health professionals was partially successful in improving breastfeeding practices and that use of LAs was effective in promoting exclusive breast feeding and use of compatible FP methods and increasing LAM knowledge. However, analysis of women using LAM as a FP method revealed that only 6.5% correctly met all criteria. Lessons learned from this evaluation are cited and the following suggestions are made for further research: 1) develop materials to teach LAM to low-literacy women; 2) examine the role of provider bias and influence of exclusive breast feeding prevalence on LAM acceptance; 3) discover the relative effectiveness of LAM promotion by LLLH vs. FP agencies; 4) test the effectiveness of strategies which segment a target population for LAM education; and 5) determine whether LAM leads to subsequent use of other FP methods.
BRITISH MEDICAL BULLETIN. 1993 Jan; 49(1):182-99.Lactational amenorrhea by means of the natural contraceptive effect of breastfeeding is a valuable tool to space families and control fertility in developing countries. In most developed countries, postpartum women are advised to initiate artificial contraception at about 4 weeks postpartum to prevent conception. However, this approach to postpartum contraception is not appropriate in many countries. Although breastfeeding does inhibit fertility, particularly during lactational amenorrhea, it is still unreliable for family planning. Data from prospective studies showed that the cumulative probabilities of ovulation during lactational amenorrhea were 30.9% and 67.3% at 6 and 12 months, respectively. When ovulatory cycles associated with adequate luteal phases were considered, the corresponding figures were 13.8% at 6 months and 37.5% at 12 months. On the basis of data from 13 studies in 8 countries, the Bellagio consensus statement concluded that breast-feeding provides more than 98% protection from pregnancy during the first 6 months postpartum if the mother is fully breastfeeding. It has been suggested that lactational amenorrhea alone would be a more practical strategy for lactating women in many countries, providing acceptably low cumulative pregnancy rates of about 3 and 6/100 women at 6 and 12 months, respectively. In the 5-center study of the ovulation method of natural family planning carried out by WHO, 94% of the women were able to carry out the method correctly, which yielded a pregnancy rate of 3/100 women-years. In a study, the home ovarian hormone monitor has been used by 37 women over a total of 55 woman-years for pregnancy avoidance. The ovarian hormone monitor gave 5 or more days' warning of ovulation in 99% of cycles and allowed intercourse to be resumed 1-3 days after ovulation in 88% of cycles. The WHO multicenter study of the ovulation method has shown that if the method is used correctly there is a first year probability of failure of 3.4%.
BULLETIN OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION. 1990; 68(5):625-31.Lactational amenorrhea in many developing countries is still the most successful form of contraception, especially when modern forms of contraception are not available. In cultures where frequent or prolonged breast feeding is common, postpartum amenorrhea and suppressed ovulation are frequent and serve to space births. It is this spacing of births that leads to decreased infant and maternal morbidity and mortality. It must be remembered that lactational amenorrhea is not a completely reliable form of contraception. In fact the figures indicate that in cultures were family planning use is low, birth intervals are largely determined by the duration and intensity of breastfeeding. Studies indicate that an increase of 15% 32% in birth intervals can result from prolonged lactation. It would be to the advantage of health care planners and providers to examined more closely the causes and properties of lactational amenorrhea. Field directed education can provide women with the information necessary to help them control their child spacing. The WHO Breast-feeding Data Bank collects and analyzes information on breast-feeding and its effects on fertility regulation. Methods used to assess lactational infertility and how the information is used by the data bank are described in this article. There is a summary of relevant information gathered from published sources and post 1983 studies of the WHO. The practical implications to health policy that are associated with lactation-associated infertility are also mentioned.
Washington, D.C., World Bank, 1989. 55 p. (World Bank Technical Paper No. 102)After a brief explanation of the impact of breastfeeding on fertility worldwide, inaccurate assumptions about the decline of breastfeeding are explored to point out the need for renewed promotion of breastfeeding by World Bank projects. Breastfeeding, by inhibiting fertility through lactational anovulation, is one of the most important determinants of fertility, especially for 83% of couples in developing countries who do not use modern contraception. Many believe that breastfeeding does not need promoting in areas where it is the norm, yet this belief does not take into account the need for supporting breastfeeding women, teaching them to breastfeed exclusively and frequently for the 1st 4 months. The belief that declines in breastfeeding are inevitable is belied by recent evidence in developed countries. The reliability of breastfeeding as a contraceptive for individual women varies: poor, undernourished women who breastfeed extensively may be protected up to 21.7 months (Bangladesh). Advantages of breastfeeding include significant savings of money, foreign exchange, scarce contraceptive supplies, medical treatment of diarrhea and malnutrition in infants, and possibly mothers' time. In contrast, other caregivers can prepare milk substitutes, but breastfeeding can be encouraged in the work setting, or milk expressed for later use. A review of 68 World Bank Projects revealed that 37% of all Population, Health and Nutrition projects, enumerated in an appendix, contained explicit actions to promote breastfeeding. 10 recommendations for promoting breastfeeding end the report.
IPPF MEDICAL BULLETIN. 1990 Apr; 24(2):2-4.The International Planned Parenthood Federation International Medical Advisory Panel drew up the following statement in November, 1989. Breastfeeding is good for the infant. Antibodies passed to it from the mother protect it from infection. Patterns of breastfeeding are changing. Therefore, the risk of pregnancy is increased. Postpartum amenorrhea plays a major role in natural fertility regulation. Studies from around the world show a positive correlation between the length of breastfeeding and the length of lactational amenorrhea. Amenorrhea lasts longer in those who breastfeed more often at night and during the day. There is controversy over the effect of nutrition on postpartum infertility. Pregnancy and the puerperium are a good time for counseling on maternal nutrition, child spacing, breastfeeding, and contraceptive methods. Counseling nursing mothers about potential fertility during lactation should be based on local information. All women should be advised to fully breastfeed. Family planning programs should cooperate with maternity services in providing counseling and education for postpartum women who need contraception, for providing referral services, for producing educational resources, and in training health personnel. Postpartum contraception should be included in the training of traditional birth attendants. Women who do not breastfeed can select any contraceptive method. Mothers who nurse must not hurt success of lactation or the infant's health. Nonhormonal contraception should be the 1st choice for lactating women. IUDs do not harm infant growth or lactation. Postpartum insertions are appropriate, though care must be taken. Female sterilization can be conveniently done at this time. Barrier methods are reliable when used regularly. The failure rate should be lower when used after delivery. Progestagen-only contraception consists of progestagen-only pills, injectables, and Norplant. These do not affect quality and quantity of breast milk or length of lactation. They are suitable for those who do not wish nonhormonal methods. There are possible consequences, however, of the transfer of the steroid to breast milk. Hormonal methods should not be used earlier than 6 weeks postpartum. High and low dose oral contraceptives adversely affect the quality and quantity of breast milk. They also reduce duration of lactation. They should be withheld until 6 weeks after delivery, or until the infant is weaned--whichever comes first. The efficacy or periodic abstinence in nursing women requires further analysis.
IPPF MEDICAL BULLETIN. 1990 Apr; 24(2):2-4.Breast milk provides infants with their nutritional requirement plus antibodies to combat certain infections. Prolonged breast feeding and concurrent postpartum amenorrhea contribute to natural infertility, but considerable variability occurs among different populations. Further, certain variables exist that contribute greatly to the length of amenorrhea and infertility. They include nutritional status of the mother; length of breast feeding; giving supplements to the infant; frequency and duration of suckling; and geographic, social, and cultural factors. Many studies indicate that the longer a woman breast feeds, the longer she will experience amenorrhea. Anovulation is contingent on the frequency and distribution of nursing episodes day and night and the time of the infant feeds at the breast. Feeding an infant supplementary milk or food also reduces the inhibitory affect of breast feeding on ovarian activity and fertility, especially when supplements are introduced early. Educating mothers about the value of child spacing, breast feeding, maternal nutrition, and contraception should be done during pregnancy and the postpartum period, the times when mothers most often visit health clinics. Mothers should also be informed that it is not possible to anticipate how long they will be infertile while breast feeding, so contraceptive use should be encouraged. If possible, nursing mothers should avoid using hormonal contraceptives because they can interrupt lactation or pose a risk to the infant. IUDs are highly efficacious. If a woman is in a hospital to deliver, postpartum sterilization is another option. Barrier methods are effective, if used regularly, especially during this time of reduced fertility. Since the reoccurrence of menses is unpredictable and the efficacy is not know, nursing mothers should not rely on periodic abstinence.
Studies in Family Planning. 1986 May-Jun; 17(3):153-60.Data from a prospective child health study conducted in Gaza by the WHO was used to examine the relationship between infant feeding and subsequent fertility. The study group consisted of 769 women living in 2 refugee camps in Gaza who gave birth in a 2-month period in 1978, and their index children, followed up for 23 months with monthly visits. Women who became pregnant within the 23 months were followed up until the end of their pregnancy. Women who practiced contraception after the birth of the index child were excluded. Life table analyses demonstrate a strong relationship between breastfeeding and 2 components of birth intervals, the postpartum anovulatory period and the waiting time from the end of the anovulatory period to conception. Duration of breastfeeding in this population averaged 12 months. Once menses have resumed, main factors related to waiting time to conception are age, husbands education, and measures of breastfeeding intensity and duration. Women who are breastfeeding when menstruation resumes and continue to do so are less likely to conceive than other women.
London, International Planned Parenthood Federation, 1984. 43 p. (IPPF Medical Publications)This booklet, for health care workers in developing countries, reviews the fertility-controlling effects of breastfeeding, its strengths and limitations as an element in family planning, and how to provide modern methods of contraception to lactating women. Breastfeeding currently provides about 30% more protection against pregnancy in developing countries than all of the organized family planning programs. The recent trend toward a falling off in the practice of breastfeeding poses a threat to infant welfare and a danger of increased fertility. Health workers are urged to reach pregnant women in the community with knowledge about the value of breastfeeding versus bottle feeding. Each country must set its own policies concerning contraception for lactating women. It is preferable for lactating women to use nonhormonal methods, but if selected, they should not be used too early. Lowest-dose preparations, especially progestogen-only pills, are preferable. Determination of when to start contraception during lactation should be based on breastfeeding patterns in the community, the age at which supplementary foods are introduced, usual birth spacing intervals, and the mean duration of lactation amenorrhea. If the usual time of resumption of menstruation in a given community is known, a rough guide to the optimal time for starting contraception is returning menstruation minus 2 months.
In: Jelliffe DB, Jelliffe EF, Sai FT, Senanayake P, eds. Lactation, fertility and the working woman. London, International Planned Parenthood Federation, 1979. 45-6.The trend away from breast-feeding, desirable for sound infant nutrition, in developing countries is of particular concern to WHO. A program has been developed to promote better information and understanding of the implications of the trend. The first phase of the program involves a study of the frequency and duration of breast-feeding and the factors that influence it. 5 surveys will be conducted in participating countries to profile breast-feeding patterns. The second phase of the program focuses on the question of volume and composition of breast milk. Maternal health will be assessed and related to quantity and quality of milk, feeding schedule, and health of the infant. Phase 3 of the program involves developing guidelines, educational materials and promotional/educational strategies to encourage breast-feeding. Policy makers and legislators, health workers, families, husbands, and industry are considered key audiences to be sensitized to the advantages of breast-feeding, and to timely and appropriate weaning. A series of short attitude and knowledge studies will be conducted among these groups in the same ecologies that the other surveys are conducted.