IT HAS been established that rubella infection in the first months of pregnancy incurs a great risk of damage to the fetus, the most common manifestations being cardiovascular and eye defects, hearing impairments, and mental disturbances. These embryopathies have proved to be common enough to justify the designation "maternal rubella syndrome." The risks of developing the syndrome have been variously reported as between 7% and 23 %1 and are greater the earlier the infection occurs.2
The chance that a severe hearing impairment will occur, alone or in combination with other defects, is on the whole relatively small. According to a British Ministry of Health report3 the risk is about 2.7%, while in a prospective study by Barr and Lundström4 it is put at between 4% and 8%.
The question of why so remarkably large a proportion of the children display no defects has interested many research workers.
Anderson H, Barr B, Wedenberg E. Genetic Disposition—A Prerequisite for Maternal Rubella Deafness. Arch Otolaryngol. 1970;91(2):141–147. doi:10.1001/archotol.1970.00770040211007
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