BPSU - Congenital Rubella

Surveillance of congenital rubella in UK and Irish children up to the age of 16 years in the UK and Ireland began in 1990. Comprehensive national surveillance through the BPSU has provided a mechanism for the timely reporting of cases, and a vehicle through which to monitor whether maternal infections were acquired abroad or at home, and to maintain awareness of this condition.

Back to the BPSU

Dr Helen Bedford

Lead investigator 

Dr Helen Bedford
Population, Policy and Practice Programme
UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health
30 Guilford Street

Email: h.bedford@ucl.ac.uk


  • The study aims to monitor the effectiveness of the rubella immunisation programme by determining the incidence of congenital rubella and investigating the circumstances surrounding any new cases.
  • Fewer than 20 congenital rubella births have been reported altogether since 1997, and only a handful of rubella-associated terminations (Tookey 2004, BPSU Annual Report 2008-2009).
  • About half of the recently reported infants had mothers who acquired infection abroad in early pregnancy, generally in their country of origin.
  • Most of the remaining cases were children with mothers who, though they acquired infection in the UK or Ireland, were born abroad.

Case definition: Any infant (live or still born) or child up to 16 years of age who, in the opinion of the notifying paediatrician, has suspected or confirmed congenital rubella with or without defects, based on history, clinical, and/or laboratory findings. Please include "imported cases", including children born in the British Isles where maternal infection occurred abroad, AND children who were born abroad.

Reporting instructions: Please report any infant or child seen by you for the first time in the past month who meets the case definition, REGARDLESS OF COUNTRY OF BIRTH. This is a change to the reporting instructions, as previously children who were born abroad were excluded.

Duration: Started January 1990. Current approval runs until April 2018.

Funding: The NCRSP was previously funded by the MRC and HPA, is currently supported by contributions from the National Screening Committee and the Population, Policy and Practice Programme at UCL ICH.

Ethical approval: Approved by London MREC (Ref:05/MRE02/2).     

Further Information

Support Group: SENSE