Congenital rubella is a condition that occurs in an infant whose mother is infected with the virus that causes German measles.
Causes of Congenital rubella
Congenital rubella occurs when the rubella virus in the mother affects the developing baby at a critical time, in the first 3 months of pregnancy. After the fourth month, the mother's rubella infection is less likely to harm the developing baby.
The number of babies born with congenital rubella has decreased dramatically since the introduction of the rubella vaccine.
Pregnant women who are not vaccinated for rubella and who have not had the disease in the past risk infecting themselves and their unborn baby.
Congenital rubella Symptoms
Symptoms in the infant may include:
- Cloudy corneas or white appearance to pupil
- Developmental delay
- Excessive sleepiness
- Low birth weight
- Intellectual disability
- Small head size
- Skin rash at birth
Tests and Exams
The baby's health care provider will run blood and urine tests to check for the virus.
Treatment of Congenital rubella
There is no specific treatment for congenital rubella. Symptoms are treated as appropriate.
The outcome for a child with congenital rubella depends on the severity of problems present. Heart defects can often be corrected. Damage to the nervous system is permanent.
Complications may involve many parts of the body.
- Patent ductus arteriosus
- Pulmonary artery stenosis
- Other heart defects
Central nervous system:
- Intellectual disability
- Motor disability
- Small head from failed brain development
- Low blood platelet count
- Enlarged liver and spleen
- Abnormal muscle tone
- Bone disease
When to Contact a Health Professional
Call your health care provider if you have concerns about congenital rubella, if you are unsure of your vaccination status, or if you or your children need a rubella vaccine.
Prevention of Congenital rubella
Vaccination prior to pregnancy can prevent congenital rubella. Pregnant women who are not immune to rubella should avoid contact with persons who have the virus.
Mason WH. Rubella. In: Kliegman, RM, Behrman RE, St. Geme III JW, Schor NF, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 239.
|Review Date: 5/10/2013
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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