Congenital Rubella | Diagnosis & Treatments

How we diagnose congenital rubella

The first step in treating your child is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis.

  • For the mother: The skin lesions caused by rubella are unique, so usually a physician can make a diagnosis through a physical examination. Your doctor may also order blood or urine tests to confirm the diagnosis.
  • For the baby: If your child is born with congenital rubella syndrome, a simple blood test can test for the presence of the virus in the bloodstream. After we complete all necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned. Then we will meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options.

How Boston Children's treats congenital rubella

If your child has been diagnosed with congenital rubella syndrome, you may be confused, frightened, and overwhelmed. But you can rest assured that, at Boston Children's Hospital, your child is in good hands.

Our physicians are expert, compassionate, and committed to focusing on the whole child, not just his condition — that's one reason we're frequently ranked as a top pediatric hospital in the United States.

It's important to know the following about rubella syndrome:

  • Because there is no cure for rubella syndrome, our specialists can treat specific symptoms of the disease — such as problems with the heart, eyes, and nervous system.

We consider you and your child integral parts of the care team and not simply recipients of care. You and your care team will work together to customize a plan of care for your child.

Prevention: The best treatment

If you're planning on becoming pregnant, ask your doctor for the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine at least 28 days beforehand.

  • If you are already pregnant, DO NOT get the rubella vaccine, as it contains a live version of the virus.

Coping and support

It's essential to remember that while hearing that your child is infected with congenital rubella syndrome can feel very isolating, many children and their families have been down this path before. We've helped them, and we can help you, too. There are lots of resources available for your family — within Boston Children's, in the outside community, and online. These include:

Patient education: From the very first visit, our nurses will be on hand to walk you through your child's treatment and help answer any questions you may have. And they'll also reach out to you by phone, continuing the care and support you received while at Boston Children's.

Parent to parent: Want to talk with someone whose baby has been treated for the symptoms of congenital rubella syndrome? We can put you in touch with other families who have been through similar experiences and can share their experience.

Faith-based support: The Boston Children’s chaplaincy is a source of spiritual support for parents and family members. Our program includes nearly a dozen clergy members — representing Episcopal, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Unitarian, and United Church of Christ traditions — who will listen to you, pray with you, and help you observe your own faith practices during your child’s treatment.

Social work and mental health professionals: Our social workers and mental health clinicians have helped many other families in your situation. We can offer counseling and assistance with issues such as coping with your child's diagnosis, stresses relating to coping with illness, and dealing with financial difficulties.

On our Patient Resources site, you can read all you need to know about:

  • getting to Boston Children's Hospital
  • accommodations
  • navigating the hospital experience
  • resources that are available for your family