Pregnancy and Rubella

Rubella is a viral infection that can be harmful to the pregnant woman and her fetus. A rubella infection in the first trimester increases the risk of losing the fetus (miscarriage) and the fetus having severe birth defects once born. Rubella has less effect on the fetus as the pregnancy goes along, but it affects all stages of pregnancy.

CAUSES

You can catch rubella from an infected person through coughing or sneezing.

SYMPTOMS

  • Fever.

  • Rash that does not itch.

  • Swollen lymph glands.

  • Pain and swelling of joints.

EFFECTS ON THE FETUS

Over half of newborns born with rubella appear normal at birth. Many newborns will later develop signs of infection. Common defects include:

  • Congenital heart disease.

  • Mental retardation.

  • Deafness.

  • Small newborns at term (fetal growth restriction).

  • Cataracts.

  • Miscarriage.

  • Stillbirth.

  • Premature delivery.

The risks increase if the infection occurs earlier in the pregnancy.

DIAGNOSIS

  • Blood tests are performed.

  • This infection may be found during a regular check-up.

TREATMENT

  • There is no effective treatment for a pregnant patient infected with rubella.

  • Immune globulin may be given to an infected woman, but its effectiveness is unknown.

  • Get the rubella vaccine after you deliver your newborn.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

Call your caregiver if you have any questions or concerns regarding rubella.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

You have an oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C).