Definition

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. These health problems are known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).

Rubella Rash
Rubella

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

CRS is caused by an infection by 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

The risk of this problem is higher in babies whose mothers did not receive the rubella vaccine.

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

Pregnancy in First Trimester
9th week fetus

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Symptoms

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

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Tests that may be done are:

  • Blood tests to look for recent infection
  • Images of the brain to look for problems

Treatment

Treatment will depend on the results of the infection. Certain eye and heart problems may be treated with surgery shortly after birth. There are also programs that can help babies with hearing loss, eyesight problems, or learning problems.

Prevention

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

RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Paediatric Society
http://www.cps.ca

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Congenital rubella syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/congenital-rubella-syndrome. Accessed November 3, 2020.

Martínez-Quintana E, Castillo-Solórzano C, et al. Congenital rubella syndrome: a matter of concern. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2015 Mar;37(3):179-186.

Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD  Last Updated: 11/3/2020