What is rubella during pregnancy?
Rubella (also known as German measles) is a viral illness. In most people who catch the virus, its effects are mild (especially in children). They typically last about one to five days. People who have rubella often have a rash on their body and may suffer from a fever and other symptoms of a viral illness. Sometimes rubella causes no symptoms - you might not even be aware that you’ve been infected.
If rubella symptoms usually pass quickly, why is it important to know about it? Rubella is a mild illness in most children and adults but it can be serious if infection occurs during pregnancy.
Particularly for women in the first trimester of pregnancy, rubella infection can cause a number of serious conditions in the unborn baby:
- heart defects
- brain defects
In some cases, rubella infection can also be responsible for miscarriage or stillbirth. Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) is the name given to the range of conditions that are caused in a baby who is born with the virus.
So rubella is a mild illness that can nevertheless have serious consequences if the infection is contracted during pregnancy. For this reason, it’s very important for women who are planning on becoming pregnant to be aware of the condition and the best ways of minimizing the risk of harm to their baby.