Congenital Rubella

You’re likely to be confused and overwhelmed — not to mention scared — if your infant has been diagnosed with congenital rubella syndrome. But you can play an active role in helping him get better. Developing a basic understanding of the condition is a great first step as you partner with your child’s health care team to form a treatment plan.

  • Congenital rubella syndrome is caused by a virus known as a rubivirus. When adults and children contract the disease, it is known as rubella, or German measles.
  • If a pregnant woman contracts rubella during her first trimester, there is a very good chance that she will pass it on to her fetus. There is also a chance that the infection will result in a miscarriage.
  • Pregnant women who have been exposed to rubella need to seek medical attention immediately.
  • The good news is that rubella is very uncommon now that children are vaccinated for the disease.
  • Only 30 to 60 cases of rubella are documented each year in the United States. Fewer than five infants each year are diagnosed with congenital rubella syndrome.
  • The rubivirus does the most damage to a developing fetus during the first trimester. After the fourth month, the mother's rubella infection is less likely to harm the fetus.
  • Babies who are born with congenital rubella syndrome may have severe birth defects.

How Children’s Hospital Boston approaches congenital rubella syndrome

Our Division of Infectious Diseases treats congenital varicella syndrome in infants.

Physicians in the Division of Infectious Diseases care for children and adolescents with a variety of infections.

  • In addition to treating children, we also are dedicated to researching better ways to diagnose, treat and prevent infectious diseases.

How does Children’s treat congenital rubella syndrome?

Because congenital rubella syndrome is a viral infection, there is no cure. If your baby is born with congenital rubella syndrome, specific symptoms of the disease can be treated accordingly.

  • Because there is no cure for congenital rubella syndrome, the best treatment is prevention. Women who are planning on becoming pregnant should be vaccinated at least 28 days beforehand. Because the vaccine is a live virus, women who are pregnant should not be vaccinated.

Newborn medicine

At Children's Division of Newborn Medicine, we specialize in treating babies with a wide range of congenital and acquired conditions. Your baby will be seen by a specially trained team of physicians, nurses, therapists and other health professionals who routinely diagnose and treat newborns with critical illnesses.

Leading the way in fetal and neonatal care

Babies who have a congenital neurological condition need intense, specialized care. At the Fetal-Neonatal Neurology Program at Children’s, we provide comprehensive evaluation and treatment for these young children. Because newborns’ brains are in a crucial window of rapid development, we identify problems as early as possible and intervene quickly.

Congenital HIV: Reviewed by Sandra Burchett, MD, MSc, Clinical Director, Children’s Hospital Boston Division of Infectious Diseases