by EBSCO Medical Review Board


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

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


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

Tests that may be done are:

  • Blood tests to look for recent infection
  • Images of the brain to look for problems


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.


If a mother gets a rubella vaccine, it can prevent CRS. Women can also be checked for immunity at premarital, preconception, or pregnancy exams.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians 


Canadian Paediatric Society 

Health Canada 


Congenital rubella syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed November 3, 2020.

Martínez-Quintana E, Castillo-Solórzano C, et al. Congenital rubella syndrome: a matter of concern. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2015 Mar;37(3):179-186.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2020
  • Update Date: 05/07/2021