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Research Article

Congenital rubella affecting an infant whose mother had rubella antibodies before conception.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 282 doi: (Published 17 January 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:187
  1. J W Partridge,
  2. T H Flewett,
  3. J E Whitehead


    A woman who had had high titres of rubella antibodies some months before she became pregnant gave birth to an infant in whom congenital rubella was confirmed at 4 months. Rubella haemagglutination inhibition tests, complement fixation tests, and immunofluorescence tests with anti-human IgG were carried out on sera from the mother. Rubella antibody titres in sera obtained in March 1971, seven and a half months before conception, were equivalent to 400 units, which is usually taken as indicating good immunity. Rubella virus was isolated from the baby's nose and throat in July 1973 but was not isolated from a cervical swab taken from the mother in December 1973; tests of her immunological competence did not show any definite abnormality. The presence of high levels of rubella haemagglutination inhibition antibodies does not invariably confer immunity or exclude the possibility of congenital rubella in a subsequent pregnancy.