BPSU surveillance - Congenital rubella

Surveillance of congenital rubella in British and Irish children up to the age of 16 years in the UK and Ireland began in 1990. Comprehensive national surveillance through the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit (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.

Lead investigator

Dr Helen Bedford
Population, Policy and Practice Programme
UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health
30 Guilford Street
London WC1N 1EH
Email: h.bedford@ucl.ac.uk

About the collaboration


Surveillance 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.

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.

You can download the protocol card, including references, below.

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 UK 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.


The surveillance started in January 1990 and is ongoing.


The National Congenital Rubella Surveillance Programme is currently supported by contributions from the National Screening Committee and the Population, Policy and Practice Programme at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health.


The London Multicentre Research Ethics Committee approved the NCRSP study (Ref:05/MRE02/2).

Support group

Further information