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Rubella & Birth Defects

Rubella or German measles is a condition that can be prevented with an immunization. While it is typically a mild illness in children, it can cause birth defects in the child of a woman who is infected while pregnant. The rubella virus attacks the skin and lymph nodes. Symptoms may include a fever and headache, along with the “hallmark” symptom of this condition, a noticeable red rash.

After a rash develops on an infected person, he or she will be at their most contagious between one week before and after this period. Additionally, people who do not display rubella symptoms but are infected can still spread rubella. Approximately half of people carrying the rubella virus do not display symptoms. This is another reason why it is so important for people to keep up to date on their immunizations. Doing so not only protects you, it protects others as well. Ask your doctor at Washington Township Medical Foundation about the MMR vaccine.

In cases of rubella, a pregnant woman who is exposed to the virus could give birth to a child with serious birth defects or may experience other complications, including:

  • Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) which may include heart problems, vision problems, spleen damage, liver damage, hearing problems, learning / mental disabilities, growth issues, bone problems, and microcephaly
  • Still birth
  • Premature birth
  • Miscarriage
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