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Congenital Rubella Syndrome



Rubella is an infection caused by a virus. If a pregnant woman has it, she can pass it to her baby. This can lead to defects, miscarriage, or stillbirth. Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) is the name for these health problems.


CRS is caused by an infection of the rubella virus. A mother has it first. Then it passes to the baby in her womb. It causes problem with how the baby grows.

Risk Factors

There is a shot for rubella. If the mother has not had it, the baby has a higher risk of infection.

The infection causes the most harm to the baby in the first three months of pregnancy.


Symptoms can differ in each child. It depends on the timing of the infection. Some problems are:


You will be asked about your child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Your child may have:

  • Blood tests—to look for recent infection
  • Imaging tests—to look for problems in the brain


Treatment will depend on the results of the infection. Certain eye and heart problems may be treated with surgery shortly after birth. There are programs that can help babies with hearing loss, eyesight problems, or intellectual problems. Talk with your doctor about the best way to treat your child.


If a mother gets a rubella shot, it can prevent CRS. Women can also be checked for immunity at premarital, preconception, or pregnancy exams.

Babies with CRS can spread the infection. People taking care of your child should be vaccinated.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians


Canadian Paediatric Society

Health Canada


Congenital rubella syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116060/Congenital-rubella-syndrome. Updated August 121, 2016. Accessed June 27, 2018.

McLean H, Redd S, et al. Chapter 15: Congenital rubella syndrome. VPD Surveillance Manual\. 5th ed. 2012. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt15-crs.pdf. Accessed June 27, 2018.

Last reviewed May 2018 by Kari Kassir, MD  Last Updated: 6/27/2018