Rubella and pregnancy


Rubella Prevention & Screening.

Rubella is usually not serious except in pregnant women, as rubella can have serious consequences for the baby.

However, it is rare during pregnancy, as most women have been vaccinated against the virus. 

Rubella : What is it ?

Rubella is an uncommon contagious infection caused by a virus.  
This infection is usually not serious except in pregnant women, as rubella can have serious consequences for their babies.

How do you become infected?

Rubella is transmitted by direct contact with a sick person through the respiratory tract.

What are the symptoms?

Infected people show no symptoms in one out of two cases.

When the infection is symptomatic, it manifests approximately two weeks after contamination as a mild fever and mild cold-like symptoms, followed by the appearance of pinkish lesions on the skin (rash). The rash first appears on the face, then spreads to the rest of the body and lasts for an average of three days. 

An infected person is contagious from eight days before the rash and until eight days after.

What is the risk to the foetus ? 

Rubella is rare during pregnancy, as most women have been vaccinated against the virus. If a woman is not immune to rubella and contracts it during pregnancy, she can pass the virus on to her unborn child. This is called congenital rubella.

The risk of transmission and contamination of the foetus is higher during the first trimester than during the rest of the pregnancy.

The later the transmission to the child, the less impact it will have on the child.

In case of early transmission (first 12 weeks of pregnancy) there is a risk of miscarriage. Congenital rubella can cause intrauterine growth retardation, eye damage, deafness and heart defects.

If the foetus contracts rubella after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the problems are usually milder. If the baby is infected, close monitoring with regular ultrasound scans will ensure that there are no malformations.

There is currently no treatment for rubella.

How can it be detected ? 

It is best to check whether an expectant mother is protected before pregnancy. 

Otherwise, at the beginning of pregnancy, a blood test with rubella serology (search for antibodies specific to the disease) allows one to know if one is immune (or protected) against rubella.

If you are immune (or protected), it is advisable to repeat this test after one month to confirm the result. If this is not the case, a second blood test will be necessary during the second trimester to verify the absence of infection during pregnancy.

If a recent infection is detected (primary rubella infection), specialised follow-up is required.

How to protect yourself ?

A vaccine can provide protection against rubella.

It is recommended that the child be vaccinated with 2 injections at 12 and 18 months.

If a pregnant woman is not immunised, she will be offered the vaccination at the maternity hospital after delivery, to be protected for any future pregnancies. 

Important : Vaccination is contraindicated during pregnancy and in the month preceding conception.

In summary

What should I do if I am immune ?

_I am protected and my child is not at risk.
_ It is advisable to take a second blood test one month later to confirm the result.
_ I will keep my results throughout my pregnancy and for future pregnancies.

What should I do if I am not immune ?

_ I am not protected and neither is my child.
_ A second blood test is recommended at around 20 weeks of amenorrhoea to check that there is no infection during this interval (critical period).
_ A vaccination against rubella is recommended after the birth, at the maternity hospital, to protect me for my future pregnancies.

Ketterthill pregnancy booklet

Download the full Ketterthill pregnancy booklet and find all the details of your analyses during pregnancy ! 

Do you want to carry out this test ?

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