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Rubella is the first virus demonstrated as a teratogen. There is a high risk to develop congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) if the infection occurs in the first part of pregnancy, particularly in women without specific immunological protection. Specific therapies to prevent CRS are not available. Many developed countries have specific vaccination programs and maternal rubella is rare. However, in developing countries or where campaigns of rubella surveillance and preconceptional vaccination are inadequate, there are still cases of CRS registered despite primary possibilities of prevention. Maternal infection is not indicative of vertical transmission in 100% of cases, and damage does not necessarily occur in all cases of fetal infection. This is the reason why an adequate prenatal counselling is mandatory, particularly in cases of proven maternal infection. Advanced prenatal diagnostic techniques, invasive or not, should be offered to the women especially in order to distinguish the cases without fetal damage. Prevention of voluntary interruption of pregnancy for the latter or in case of maternal false IgM rubella antibody positivity or IgM "chronic carrier" patients is mandatory. World wide, the aim is to perform an adequate primary prevention through vaccination of childbearing age women without specific immunological protection.


M De Santis, A F Cavaliere, G Straface, A Caruso. Rubella infection in pregnancy. Reproductive toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.). 2006 May;21(4):390-8

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PMID: 16580940

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