From the Journals

Levonorgestrel implant right after delivery does not affect breastfeeding, infant growth



Researchers found no significant differences in infant growth, changes in breastfeeding initiation or breastfeeding continuation at 3-month and 6-month follow-up among women who received a levonorgestrel contraception implant very soon after delivery, compared with women who waited to receive the implant.

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“These findings are consistent with the preponderance of literature supporting the hypothesis that progestin-containing contraceptives do not compromise a woman’s ability to initiate or sustain breastfeeding and do not adversely affect infant growth,” Sarah Averbach, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleagues wrote in their study published in Contraception.

Dr. Averbach and her colleagues randomized 96 women to receive a two-rod levonorgestrel (LNG)–releasing subdermal contraceptive implant within 5 days of delivery (mean time, 36 hours post delivery) and 87 women to delay the implant to between 6 and 8 weeks at a postpartum follow-up visit (mean time, 68 days). The women were a minimum of 18 years old with a recent vaginal or cesarean section delivery at a Ugandan hospital; 55% of the women had at least three children, and 73% said they had prior experience breastfeeding. The researchers then examined infant weight change and infant head circumference change at 6 months from birth, time to lactogenesis, and whether mothers continued to breastfeed at 3 months and 6 months after birth.

Infant weight was similar in the immediate-implant group (4,632 g), compared with the delayed-implant group (4,407 g; P = .26); infant head circumference was similar between both groups (9.3 cm vs. 9.5 cm; P = .70) at 6 months as well. The time to lactogenesis was not significantly different in the immediate-implant (65 hours) and delayed-implant (63 hours; P = .84) groups. At 3 months, 74% of immediate-implant participants and 71% of delayed-implant participants said they were breastfeeding exclusively (P = .74); at 6 months, 48% of immediate implant participants and 52% of delayed implant participants reported exclusive breastfeeding (P equals .58).

Limitations of the study included follow-up to only 6 months and selection of participants with previous breastfeeding experience. Researchers also noted better measurements of infant and maternal breast milk intake also could be used and limit generalization of the results.

This study was funded by the Society of Family Planning Research Fund. Dr. Averbach is supported by an award from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. The other authors had no relevant financial disclosures.

SOURCE: Averbach S et al. Contraception. 2018. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2018.10.008.

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