Congenital rubella is a group of physical problems that occur in an infant when its mother is infected with the virus that causes German measles.
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Congenital rubella is caused by the destructive action of the rubella virus on the fetus at a critical time in development. The most critical time is the first trimester (the first 3 months of a pregnancy). After the fourth month, the mother’s rubella infection is less likely to harm the developing fetus.
The rate of congenital rubella has decreased dramatically since the introduction of the rubella vaccine.
Risk factors for congenital rubella include:
- Not getting the recommended rubella immunization
- Contact with a person who has rubella (also called the 3-day measles or German measles)
Pregnant women who are not vaccinated and who have not had rubella risk infection to themselves and damage to their unborn baby.
Pictures & Images
Rubella on an infant’s back
Rubella is often called three-day measles. Because of the very effective vaccine, rubella is seldom seen today. The rubella vaccine is given in combination with measles (rubeola) and mumps. (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Rubella syndrome, or congenital rubella, is a group of physical abnormalities that have developed in an infant as a result of maternal infection and subsequent fetal infection with rubella virus. It is characterized by rash at birth, low birth weight, small head size, heart abnormalities, visual problems and bulging fontanelle.
Review Date : 8/6/2009
Reviewed By : Paul B. Griggs, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.