Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Congenital rubella in babies of south Asian women in England and Wales: an excess and its causes.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 294 doi: (Published 21 March 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294:737
  1. E Miller,
  2. A Nicoll,
  3. S A Rousseau,
  4. P J Sequeira,
  5. M H Hambling,
  6. R W Smithells,
  7. H Holzel


    The incidence of congenital rubella was found to be 2.3 times higher in Asian than non-Asian births in England and Wales. This was attributed in part to higher susceptibility to rubella in Asian than non-Asian women, as shown by antenatal serological data from public health laboratories in Leeds, Luton, and Manchester. Examination of the ethnic origin of pregnant women requesting laboratory testing after contact with rubella or rash and of women with laboratory confirmed rubella in pregnancy also suggested that the disease was being underdiagnosed in pregnant Asian women. Failure to prevent congenital rubella by termination of infected pregnancies may therefore contribute to the increased incidence of the syndrome in Asians. Health education programmes about the dangers of rubella in pregnancy and of the need for vaccination can readily be promoted in the Asian community through existing ethnic organisations. Protection of other ethnic minorities likely to be at similar increased risk may require a vaccination programme aimed at national elimination of rubella.