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Rubella screening to end next April

27 January 2016

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From 1 April 2016, pregnant women in England will no longer be given rubella (German measles) susceptibility screening, Public Health England (PHE) confirmed.

Currently these screenings consist of a blood test offered to all pregnant women to establish whether they are immune to rubella. Most women are immune and no further action is required.

Dr Anne Mackie, director of screening programmes at Public Health England (PHE) said: “The decision to end rubella susceptibility screening in pregnancy in England is based on a rigorous assessment of the evidence and expert clinical advice.

“A major factor is that high uptake of the MMR vaccine in children means that rubella infection is considered to be eliminated in the UK by the World Health Organization. The change will free up busy midwives so they can spend more time looking after a new mother and her baby,” she added.

Women who are not immune are advised to avoid contact with the virus and offered the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination after the birth of the baby, before any further pregnancies.

Measles can be serious in pregnancy, sometimes leading to miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth. If women are not sure whether they are vaccinated, having another MMR vaccine prior to becoming pregnant will not cause harm.

The MMR vaccine can also be given to breastfeeding mothers without any risk to their baby.