Rubella's Birth Defects Nearly Gone
Congenital Rubella Syndrome 'Almost a Thing of the Past' in U.S., Experts Say
April 7, 2006 -- U.S. health experts have announced that congenital rubella
syndrome has virtually been eliminated in the U.S.
The announcement was made in the journal Birth Defects Research (Part
A): Clinical and Molecular Teratology. "Teratology" is the study
of birth defects.
"We are always pleased when we can broadcast good news. And today, we
can," birth defects experts state in the journal. "Effectively,
congenital rubella syndrome has been nearly eradicated from the United
The statement was endorsed by these scientific societies: the Teratology
Society, the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists, the
Neurobehavioral Teratology Society, and the Behavioral Toxicology Society.
The experts included Anthony Scialli, MD, of Sciences International in
About Congenital Rubella Syndrome
"Congenital rubella syndrome is one of the types of birth defects that
we know how to prevent," write Scialli and colleagues.
They explain that "congenital rubella syndrome occurs when pregnant
women are infected with the rubella (German measles) virus, and immunization
with rubella vaccine in the prepregnancy years prevents it." Babies born
with congenital rubella syndrome may have deafness, blindness, and congenital
Thanks to rubella vaccination, U.S. reports of rubella and congenital
rubella syndrome have become very rare, the experts note.
"Reported rubella cases in the United States are now down to fewer than
10 cases last year, and in the past five years there have been only four cases
of congenital rubella syndrome reported in the United States, and only one was
a child whose mother had been born in the United States," according to the
Vaccination Is the Key
Vaccination against rubella should remain a top priority, the experts write.
They call for "effective strategies" to make sure countries worldwide
also succeed in rubella vaccination.
In the U.S., the CDC recommends that all children get two doses of the
measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. The first dose should be given when the
child is 12-15 months old; the second dose at 4-6 years.
"These are the recommended ages," the CDC's web site states.
"But children can get the second dose at any age, as long as it is at least
28 days after the first dose."
"Some adults should also get MMR vaccine," the CDC also notes.
"Generally, anyone 18 years of age or older, who was born after 1956,
should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine, unless they can show that they
have either had the vaccines or the diseases."
However, the MMR vaccine isn't given to some people, including pregnant
women and people with certain allergic reactions. Due to the risk of birth
defects, the CDC advises women to avoid getting pregnant for at least four
weeks after getting the MMR vaccine.