I’m worried about rubella

Q My midwife has told me I don’t have any antibodies to rubella and I’m concerned. Why is this a problem?

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Consultant Leonie Penna replies: Rubella, also known as German measles, is a fairly common infection in childhood. When you’re immune to it, you develop an antibody in your blood. The antibody occurs either by a person having rubella or being given the vaccine.
The majority of pregnant women will have either had rubella or been vaccinated against it. If you’ve had rubella, you’ll
always be immune to it, but if you’ve been vaccinated, immunity may not last.

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A test is recommended to all pregnant women during their first visit with the midwife. Your test has shown that you have no rubella antibodies, which means you could become infected if you came into contact with it.

Unfortunately, if a woman develops rubella during pregnancy, there is a high risk of birth defects, including possible blindness and deafness.

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As you are not immune to rubella, it is crucial you avoid contact with anyone who has or could possibly have the infection. It is not safe to be vaccinated during pregnancy, but you will be offered the vaccine in hospital after you have delivered your baby. This is a good idea, especially if you plan to have more children in the future.

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