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Rubella (German Measles) and Pregnant Women

Pregnant woman touching her bellyRubella is very dangerous for pregnant women and their developing babies. If a pregnant woman is infected with rubella, she can pass the virus to her baby, which can lead to a miscarriage or an infant born with the congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). CRS can cause severe birth defects such as heart problems, loss of hearing and eyesight, intellectual disability, and liver or spleen damage.


Rubella spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and touches objects or surfaces with unwashed hands. The disease is most contagious when the infected person has a rash. But it can spread up to seven days before the rash appears and up to seven days after. People without symptoms can still spread rubella.

The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine can help prevent rubella. Two doses of the vaccine are recommended for children.

Pregnant women and their unborn babies are especially vulnerable. Because MMR vaccine is an attenuated (weakened) live virus vaccine, pregnant women should not get MMR vaccine.

Women who are planning to become pregnant should check with their healthcare professional to make sure they are vaccinated before they get pregnant. Adult women of childbearing age should avoid getting pregnant for at least four weeks after receiving MMR vaccine.

If you get rubella or are exposed to rubella while pregnant, contact a healthcare professional immediately.



Updated June 16, 2020

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention