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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[Unpublished] .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.