Lactational amenorrhoea among adolescent girls in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic scoping review

Martines N. S. Figaroa, Saverio Bellizzi, Therese Delvaux, Lenka Benova

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Introduction Fertility levels among adolescents remain high in many settings. The objective of this paper was to review the available literature about postpartum and lactational amenorrhoea among adolescents in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Methods We searched Medline, Embase, Global Health and CINAHL Plus databases using terms capturing adolescence and lactational or postpartum amenorrhoea. Inclusion criteria included publication date since 1990, data from LMICs, and topic related to lactational amenorrhoea as a postpartum family planning method or as an effect of (exclusive) breast feeding among adolescents. Thematic analysis and narrative synthesis were applied to summarise and interpret the findings. Results We screened 982 titles and abstracts, reviewed 75 full-text articles and included nine. Eight studies assessed data from a single country (three from India, two from Bangladesh, two from Turkey, one from Nigeria). One study using Demographic and Health Survey data included 37 different LMICs. The five studies measuring duration of postpartum or lactational amenorrhoea reported a wide range of durations across the contexts examined. Four studies (from Bangladesh, Nigeria and Turkey) examined outcomes related to the use of lactational amenorrhoea as a family planning method among adolescents. We did not find any studies assessing adolescents' knowledge of lactational amenorrhoea as a postpartum family planning method. Likewise, little is known about the effectiveness of lactational amenorrhoea method among adolescents using sufficiently large samples and follow-up time. Conclusion The available evidence on lactational amenorrhoea among adolescents in LMICs is scarce. Given the potential contribution of lactational amenorrhoea to prevention of short interpregnancy intervals among adolescents and young women, there is a need for a better understanding of the duration of lactational amenorrhoea, and the knowledge and effective use of lactational amenorrhoea method for family planning among adolescents in a wider range of LMIC settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere002492
JournalBMJ Global Health
Issue number10
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • child health
  • maternal health

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