Is there a link between Rubella and autism?
We are aware of just one study by by Libbey, J., Sweeten, T., & Fujinami, R. (2005, PDF 93.6 KB) has summarised the evidence for a causal link between prenatal maternal Rubella and Autism.
In this paper the authors conclude: “The best association to date has been made between congenital rubella and autism; however, members of the herpes virus family may also have a role in autism. Further research is needed to clarify … the mechanisms whereby viral infection early in development may lead to autism.”
It is well documented however, that prenatal maternal Rubella causes brain damage in the unborn child, especially when the mother contracts the Rubella virus in the third trimester. The extent of the brain damage and hence the impact on child’s development varies substantially, but some children unfortunately are intellectually, visually and/or hearing impaired. As the paper listed above suggests, there may be some link with autism as well, but more research is needed before it can be categorically stated.
– Dr Elfriede Ihsen