A viral infection that can cause mild flu like symptoms in the mother, but can cause devastating harm to the baby, especially if the infection occurs in the first half of the pregnancy. Check if you are immunised against Rubella, and if you are not arrange for immunisation before you try and become pregnant.

Fortunately, rubella in pregnancy is now a rare problem in the developed world because most women have been vaccinated against it. The vaccine prevents most – but not all – rubella infections during pregnancy.

If a pregnant woman is not immune to rubella and catches it during the first 5 months of pregnancy, she usually passes the disease on to her fetus.

  • If the fetus gets rubella during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the baby likely will be born with many problems. The most common are eye problems, hearing problems and heart damage.
  • If the fetus gets rubella between 12 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, problems are usually milder.
  • If the fetus gets rubella after 20 weeks of pregnancy, there are usually no problems.

There is no treatment for rubella infection. The damage that happens to the fetus will last for the child’s whole life.

What can you do to prevent rubella while you are pregnant?

Before you get pregnant, speak to your doctor. If you are not sure whether you have had a rubella vaccine, you should have a blood test. The test will tell you if you are protected against rubella. If you have had rubella infection or have the antibodies from the rubella vaccine, you are likely protected. If the blood test shows you are not protected against rubella, you should get the MMR vaccine right away. You cannot get this vaccine when you are pregnant.

If you are pregnant, avoid contact with people who have rashes that cover most of their body and have been present for less than a week. This MMR vaccine is very safe.

Getting help
If you wish to make an appointment to seek further advice and or treatment, please email Dr Harrington's secretary.