Congenital Rubella Syndrome: What is it and what can we do?


Rubella virus is a leading cause of vaccine-preventable birth defects. Though typically a mild disease, pregnant women infected with rubella in the first trimester have a very high risk of miscarrying or giving birth to a child with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). CRS often results in multiple severe birth defects such as heart problems, hearing impairment, and blindness.

The good news is that just one dose of a rubella-containing vaccination (RCV) is 97% effective at preventing infection. By 2021, RCVs had been introduced in 90% of countries throughout the world and with support of global partners, including the Measles & Rubella Partnership (M&RP), countries have worked to decrease the burden of CRS to an estimated 32,000 a year.

Despite the remarkable progress of rubella vaccination globally, there is still more we can do. Currently, 19 countries—most in the WHO Africa Region—still do not use the rubella vaccine. The M&RP is committed to supporting the remaining countries in introducing the rubella vaccine through high-quality immunization services, development of new vaccine technologies, and coordination of campaigns to
vaccinate children who have not received vaccine during well child healthcare visits. We work with countries to strengthen disease reporting and laboratory testing, provide timely supplies and funding to respond to outbreaks, and achieve and sustain regional measles and rubella elimination goals.

M&RP is committed to achieving a world where no child dies from measles or is born with lifelong disabilities caused by congenital rubella syndrome. With the unwavering support of our partners, we work intently to meet this goal to ensure all children can lead the healthy, joyful lives they deserve.

Read more about the global burden of CRS.

Featured Image ©UNICEF/U.S.CDC/UN0828187/Prinsloo | A mother holds her baby as the child receives a dose of measles and rubella vaccine in Angola.

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