Congenital Rubella Syndrome
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
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).
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 problems with how the baby grows.
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 3 months of pregnancy.
Problems can differ in each child. It depends on the timing of the infection. Some problems are:
The doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests that may be done are:
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.
If a mother gets a rubella vaccine, it can prevent CRS. Women can also be checked for immunity at premarital, preconception, or pregnancy exams.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
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: 5/7/2021
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