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Congenital rubella

Congenital rubella is a condition that occurs in an infant whose mother is infected with the virus that causes German measles. Congenital means the condition is present at birth.

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Rubella on an infant's back
Rubella Syndrome

Causes

Congenital rubella occurs when the rubella virus in the mother affects the developing baby in the first 3 months of pregnancy. After the fourth month, if the mother has a rubella infection, it is less likely to harm the developing baby.

The number of babies born with this condition is much smaller since the rubella vaccine was developed.

Pregnant women and their unborn babies are at risk if:

Symptoms

Symptoms in the infant may include:

Exams and Tests

The baby's health care provider will run blood and urine tests to check for the virus.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for congenital rubella. The treatment is symptom-based.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome for a child with congenital rubella depends on how severe the problems are. Heart defects can often be corrected. Damage to the nervous system is permanent.

Possible Complications

Complications may involve many parts of the body.

EYES:

HEART:

CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM:

OTHER:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if:

Prevention

Vaccination prior to pregnancy can prevent this condition. Pregnant women who have not had the vaccine should avoid contact with people who have the rubella virus.

Related Information

Rubella

References

Gershon AA. Rubella virus (German measles). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 152.

Mason WH, Gans HA. Rubella. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 274.

Reef SE. Rubella (German measles). In Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 344.

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Review Date: 4/4/2019  

Reviewed By: Liora C. Adler, MD, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, Hollywood, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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