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Congenital Rubella Syndrome

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Congenital Rubella Syndrome



Rubella is an infection caused by a virus. If a pregnant person has it, she can pass it to her baby. This can lead to birth defects, miscarriage, or stillbirth. These health problems are known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).

Rubella Rash.

Rubellahttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=73477347si55551218.jpgsi55551218.jpgNULLjpgsi55551218.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551218.jpgNULL9NULL2008-11-072543907347_222857Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


CRS is caused by an infection by the rubella virus. A mother has it first. Then it passes to the baby in her womb. It causes problems with how the baby grows.

Risk Factors

The risk of this problem is higher in babies whose mothers did not receive the rubella vaccine.

The infection causes the most harm to the baby in the first 3 months of pregnancy.

Pregnancy in First Trimester.

9th week fetushttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=76027602si55551258.jpgsi55551258.jpgNULLjpgsi55551258.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551258.jpgNULL16NULL2008-12-10254390Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Problems can differ in each child. It depends on the timing of the infection. Some problems are:

  • Low birth weight
  • Hearing loss
  • Problems with eyesight
  • Skin sores
  • Learning problems
  • Slowed growth and development


The doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Blood tests may be done to look for infection. Pictures of the brain may also be taken to look for signs that point to CRS.


Treatment will depend on the results of the infection. Certain eye and heart problems may be treated with surgery shortly after birth. There are also programs that can help babies with hearing loss, eyesight problems, or learning problems.


The risk of this health problem may be lowered by the mother getting the rubella vaccine.





  • Congenital rubella. Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at: https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions/congenital-rubella#symptoms--causes.
  • Congenital rubella syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/congenital-rubella-syndrome.


  • Kari Kuenn, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.