Also known as German or 3-day measles, Rubella has a mild course with few or no constitutional symptoms.

A mild rash with low-grade fever occurs and can last up to 3 days.  Up to 50% of cases go unnoticed.

The risk of Rubella is therefore not with a child getting the disease, but exposing a pregnant woman, thereby putting her at risk of developing Congenital Rubella Syndrome.

The greatest risk of developing congenital rubella is in the first 16 weeks of gestation, which has the potential of abortion, stillbirths and birth defects.  Infection between 16 and 20 weeks carries a minimal risk of deafness.  Rubella infection prior to conception or after 20 weeks carries no documented risk.

Miller E, Cradock-Watson J.E, Pollock T.M. Consequences of confirmed maternal rubella at successive stages of pregnancy.  Lancet 1982, p. 781-784.

Significant contact is necessary to pass on infection, which is defined as face-to-face contact or being in the same room for more than 15 minutes of continual contact.

Suggestions regarding rubella vaccination:

  • The risk is small, but real (1-2 cases/100,000 pop.)
  • Avoid pediatrician offices in early pregnancy
  • Avoid close contact with children recently vaccinated with MMR in early pregnancy
  • Avoid getting the rubella vaccine within 6 months of getting pregnant
  • Understand the very real risk of developing arthritis from the rubella vaccine
  • Understand the risks can assist in making an informed decision

Vaccines: The Risks, the Benefits, the Choices, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, 2nd Ed. (Video)

In 2004 however, US public health officials declared rubella eradicated in the United States, although cases continue to appear in Hispanic populations who have not been vaccinated.

Vaccines 2.0 – The Careful Parent’s Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family – Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted

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