Rubeolar embryopathy

Rubeolar embryopathy is a prenatal impairment of the child in the uterus following infection of the mother with rubella virus.It affects one in 10,000 newborns; 10 per cent of these children die within their first year of life.The rubella virus passes to the foetus via the placenta and causes damage to the inner ear, heart, eyes and other organs, which frequently results in handicaps, premature births and miscarriages.There is a 90 per cent risk of foetal damage if the rubella infection is contracted during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy; up to the 17th week the risk is about 30 per cent, after which it drops to about 4 per cent.Between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of the affected children have a heart defect – most commonly the ductus botalli stays open (a condition known as persistent ductus botalli, or PDA).Typical for the condition are also constrictions on the pulmonary or main arteries, as well as ventricular and atrial septal defects.Vaccination before pregnancy affords protection against rubeolar embryopathy.

Author(s): Dr Stefanie Weismann-Günzler
Reviewed by: Dr Heide Seidel
Last updated: 2014-03-13