It is really important to check your rubella status before getting pregnant. Many women that we see at the clinic don’t know whether they are immune or not, so if in doubt ask your GP and get a check.
Rubella (also known as German measles) is a viral infection that causes a red-pink rash, swollen glands and cold/flu-like symptoms. It used to be common in young children and is generally a mild illness lasting about 7-10 days. Sometimes it is so mild it can go almost unnoticed. However the rubella virus can be extremely serious if a woman becomes infected in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy at the time the baby’s organs are developing. The virus can seriously damage a baby’s heart and brain and result in blindness and deafness (congenital rubella syndrome).
You will probably already be immune if you had rubella as a child or had a rubella vaccination at school. Most babies are now given the MMR vaccine (combined measles, mumps and rubella) recognising the importance of the damage these infections can cause to adults and pregnant women.
As rubella is so serious in pregnancy, it is important that you check you are immune before you conceive. If you have not had your immunity checked within the last 2 years, your doctor can do a blood test to check your level of antibodies. If you are not immune, you will need to be given the MMR vaccine and then strictly avoid getting pregnant for one month as the vaccination cannot be given once you are pregnant.