A group of 209 married, fecund women in rural Bangladesh were studied prospectively for 24 months from 1969 to 1971 to define some of the biological and sociological factors relating to fertility performance. These women were selected from a larger study population of 112,000 that had been followed with a daily house-to-house vital registration programme since 1966. The selected women were interviewed bi-weekly and were asked questions about menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, husband’s occupational absences, and monthly urine tests for pregnancy were taken. The results for 193 non-contracepting women revealed that the seasonal pattern of births previously observed in this population could be associated with a corresponding seasonal pattern of conceptions and that this was due to a seasonal trend in fecundability. The highest conception rates were in the coolest months of the year. Post-partum lactational amenorrhoea was very prolonged, averaging 17 months for women with a surviving child. The appearance of the first post-partum menstrual flow (onset of ovulation) also had a seasonal trend which could not be adequately explained. The median waiting time to conception, once menstruation had resumed was eight months. This interval was influenced by seasonal fluctuations, as well as by the age of women and by husbands’ absences. The foetal wastage rate was 15±0 per 100 conceptions, with 62 per cent of the foetal losses occurring during the second month of gestation. Overall, the average birth interval was 33 months, with the prolonged lactational amenorrhoea accounting for almost 45 per cent of this interval.
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