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Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Information for Ob-Gyns

Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) are discussed in tandem, as the MMR vaccine is a combination vaccine. Even when susceptibility to only one antigen is suspected, the MMR vaccine is always used.

The primary objective of rubella immunization for women is to prevent fetal rubella infection and subsequent congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) in newborns. Fetal infection with rubella may lead to spontaneous abortion, fetal death, or preterm delivery. A child born with (CRS) may have a variety of congenital effects that depend upon the gestational age and developmental growth in progress at the time of infection. The syndrome causes more damage in early gestation, when more organ systems are developing. CRS defects can include sensorineural deafness, cataracts, microphthalmia, glaucoma, chorioretinitis, patent ductus arteriosus, peripheral pulmonary artery stenosis, atrial or ventricular septal defects, microcephaly, meningoencephalitis, mental retardation, and intrauterine and postnatal growth restriction.

After birth, an infant born with CRS sheds rubella virus heavily for a year or more. Consequently, a single case of CRS creates a potential danger of more maternal rubella cases and subsequent CRS. Clinicians should strive to inform parents and caretakers of the danger an infant with CRS can spread. Everyone involved with the CRS child’s care should understand that 1) these infants can spread rubella to susceptible children and adults, who may then transmit the virus to susceptible pregnant individuals; 2) the infant may shed rubella virus for a year or longer; and 3) it is the parents and caretakers who can prevent rubella disease transmission and further cases of CRS.

The MMR vaccine can be given to individuals who are allergic to eggs, as anaphylactic reactions from MMR-containing vaccines have been associated with other vaccine components.

Visit CDC for more information on measles, mumps and rubella. Click here to view the most recent ACIP Recommendations for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella.

Click here to read CDC's statement regarding a 2004 Pediatrics Article, "Age at First Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination in Children With Autism and School-matched Control Subjects: A Population-Based Study in Metropolitan Atlanta"

Last Updated: 8/26/2013


Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Information for Patients

Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) are grouped together because the MMR vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects against all three diseases. They are all caused by viruses and are very contagious. They spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing.

Measles (rubeola) infection causes fever, runny nose, cough, and a rash all over the body. In more serious cases, ear infection, seizures, pneumonia, or brain damage can result. Some people who get measles can die.

Mumpsinfection starts out with flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Next, the salivary glands become swollen and painful. Serious cases of mumps can result in deafness or fertility problems.

Rubella infection causes high fever and rash lasting a few days in most people. Rubella is much more serious for some people. Pregnant women who get rubella can pass it to the fetus, causing abortion, death, or preterm delivery. In newborns, rubella can cause a very serious disease called congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). CRS can cause:

• Deafness

• Serious defects of the eyes, heart, and brain

• Mental retardation

• Fetal and newborn growth problems.

After birth, an infant born with CRS is highly contagious and can spread rubella virus very easily. The best way to prevent this dangerous disease cycle is by getting the vaccine.

Adults who did not get the MMR vaccine as children should get at least one dose. Those who have had severe allergic reactions to previous vaccines should not get the vaccine. People should wait to get the vaccine if they are sick when the shot is scheduled or if they are pregnant. Pregnant women should wait to get the vaccine until after delivery. Women should wait to become pregnant for at least 1 month after getting the vaccine.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s pages for more information on measles, mumps, and rubella.

Last Updated: 8/7/2013 

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