Rubella is an infection caused by a virus. Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) is an important cause of severe birth defects. When a woman is infected with the rubella virus early in pregnancy, she has a 90% chance of passing the virus on to her fetus. This can cause the death of the fetus, or it may cause CRS. Even though it is a mild childhood illness CRS causes many birth defects. Deafness is the most common, but CRS can also cause defects in the eyes, heart, and brain. It is estimated that there are 110 000 cases of CRS each year.
Last updated: 25 January 2008