A new study from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre has revealed that mothers are less likely to vaccinate daughters under age 13 against human papillomavirus virus (HPV), following certain beliefs.
HPV is a sexually transmitted virus known to cause cervical cancer. Even though Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend vaccination for girls at age 11 and 12, these run counter to the mother's intentions.
"Because HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and often acquired soon after the onset of sexual activity, the CDC recommends that HPV vaccination ideally occur before a girl becomes sexually active, as the vaccine will not reverse HPV infection," said Dr Jessica Kahn, lead researcher and a physician in the division of adolescent medicine at Cincinnati Children's.
Dr. Kahn and her colleagues surveyed 10,521 mothers of adolescents enrolled in the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS), a longitudinal study of the children of mothers participating in the Nurses Health Study II (NHS 2), between June 2006 and February 2007.
The survey revealed that mothers are currently not inclined to follow that guideline.
According to the data examined, while 86 percent of moms intended to vaccinate a 16- to 18-year-old daughter, and 68 percent intended to vaccinate a 13- to 15-year-old daughter, and 48 percent intended to vaccinate a 9- to 12-year-old daughter.
"We found that mothers' beliefs about HPV vaccination are the most powerful determinants of whether they intend to vaccinate their daughters at this age," she said.
The findings of our study, in combination with results of the evolving literature on HPV vaccine acceptability, provide information that can be used to improve moms' acceptance of HPV vaccination for their younger daughters," she added.
The factors independently associated with intention to vaccinate a younger daughter included belief that one's daughter should get a regular Pap screen and beliefs about HPV vaccines.
The seven-item scale measuring beliefs about HPV vaccines included perceived benefits to HPV vaccination such as whether that vaccination will protect one's daughter against cervical cancer, perceived barriers to vaccination such as whether that vaccination may lead to riskier sexual behaviours, belief that the daughter is at risk for HPV infection, belief that HPV-related diseases such as cervical cancer are serious, and belief that one's doctor would recommend vaccination.
"Because we found moms' personal beliefs play such an important role in their decisions to have younger daughters immunized against HPV, the development of evidence-based messages that emphasize adolescent girls' risk for HPV infection, the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing cervical cancer, and clinician endorsement of vaccination may increase the acceptability of the HPV vaccine among parents and help to maximize HPV vaccine uptake," said Dr. Kahn.
"A comprehensive approach to enhancing parental acceptability of HPV vaccination would involve the combined efforts of clinicians, health educators, advocacy groups, and public health personnel," she added.
The study was presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics Presidential Plenary session, of the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Honolulu.