A new study conducted by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco has found that parents of teen girls prefer their daughters use some forms of birth control over others.
Researchers questioned 261 parents with daughters between the ages of 12 and 17. They were surveyed about their teens' likelihood to have sex, their parenting beliefs, their own sexual health as teens and their knowledge of sexually transmitted infections. They were then asked about the acceptability of certain contraceptive methods. Specifically, they were asked which methods of birth control they found most acceptable and unacceptable for their daughters to use if they were provided by a medical professional.
They found that parents had the highest acceptability for oral birth control pills (59 percent). More than half (51 percent) said they were most accepting of their children using condoms to prevent pregnancy and STIs.
"Considering the fact that condoms are our only method that protects these teenagers from sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, and because the condom seems less invasive than other forms of contraception, we were surprised they weren't accepted by a larger percentage," said lead researcher Lauren Hartman, M.D.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, also found that parents were the least accepting of two of the most effective birth control methods - contraceptive implants and the intrauterine device.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American teen pregnancy rate hit a record low in 2011. Statistics show that there were 31 live births per 1,000 teens between the ages of 15 and 19 - a decline of 8 percent from the previous year.
Health officials stated that while the reasons for the declines are not clear, teens seem to be less sexually active. Additionally, among those who are engaging in sexual behaviors, more seem to be using birth control than in previous years.
However, although teen pregnancies have declined, statistics show that STIs continue to be prevalent among teens. The CDC states that young people between the ages of 15 and 24 account for almost half of the 19 million new cases of STDs reported each year. This age group is the fastest growing group of people contracting STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.
Because some STIs have mild or non-existent symptoms, health officials say they are often unknowingly passed to infected individuals' sexual partners.