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Babies may be born deaf and blind if mother didn’t have MMR jab

Author: Neil Fearn  Bullet  Dated: 28/06/2013

The measles outbreak in South Wales has raised concerns about the longer term impact of young people not being protected against rubella and mumps.

According to Professor Colin Blakemore, former chief executive of the Medical Research council, a pregnant woman who infected with rubella will have a high chance of giving birth to a baby who is deaf or blind.

As Dr Meirion Evans, consultant epidemiologist for Public Health Wales, said: "The big problem with rubella is that if women get it while pregnant then they risk giving birth to a baby with congenital rubella syndrome, which can cause multiple defects."

MMR controversy led to children not being vaccinated

More than 300,000 children aged 10-16 are not vaccinated with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab. In 1998 a scientific paper claimed that children who had the MMR jab were at a greater risk of developing autism and colitis. But these findings have now been discredited.

As Professor Blakemore comments: "Let’s not forget that the babies who missed out on MMR at the height of the media meltdown are now in their early teens.

"It’s not long before the first of these girls become pregnant. But they face the consequences of a lack of protection against the other ‘M’ - mumps - and the R - rubella or German measles. "

Women infected with rubella have a 20% chance of abortion, while mumps can cause infertility in young men.

Worryingly, rubella figures have risen - last year there were 65 cases in England and Wales, which is the highest number for over a decade.

A catch-up campaign to increase vaccination in children and teenagers was launched by Sense in April 2013 to prevent outbreaks of rubella. Sense recommends 2 doses of the MMR vaccine to protect women and their unborn child against measles, mumps and rubella.

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