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How Rubella during Pregnancy Leads to Cerebral Palsy

Rubella also known as German measles is a type of viral disease that is marked by the outburst of a rash that normally begins from the face and then gradually spreads to the other parts of the body. This disease is normally associated with children. This is because most who adults have suffered from the disease as an infant then developed strong immunity against it in other stages of their life. Adults who have not suffered from the infection before and have not immunized themselves can also contact the disease.

Rubella is a contagious infection. It is caused by a virus known as rubivirus which is present in a large number in the discharge from the nose and the throat. It is through this discharge that the infection is spread. The vaccine for the infection has been developed. One thing about German measles is that it is mild, harmless and can disappear on its own after a week or thereabout from the time it has been contacted. But this is only the case in adults. It can be very dangerous to fetus in the woman if it is contacted by a pregnant woman especially during the first trimester of her pregnancy. It can cause terrible birth defects such as cerebral palsy.

Rubella can be transferred to the embryo by the pregnant woman if she contacts the infection during the first three weeks of pregnancy. The infection is transferred to the embryo through the placenta. It can cause great damage or terrible congenial disease to the embryo normally referred to as congenital rubella syndrome.

Statistics have shown that rubella is the cause of birth defect like cerebral palsy in 25% of babies whose mothers contacted the infection during first three weeks of their pregnancy. The virus that causes this infection can also cause brain damage in the embryo if a pregnant woman contacts the infection during the first trimester of pregnancy. Brain damage is the major cause of cerebral palsy.

The danger of giving birth to baby that is affected by cerebral palsy is high if the rubella is contacted during the first trimester but this does not mean that the baby is safe if the infection is contacted by the mother during the second and the third trimesters of pregnancy.  The second trimester of pregnancy runs from the 14th to 26th week of pregnancy. During the 14th and 15th week of pregnancy, rubella can still cause havoc on the baby but the risk is not as high as in the first trimester. The risk becomes very low as from the 16th week. However, the fact that there is the risk of giving birth to a cerebral palsy affected baby if you contact rubella during pregnancy no matter how low the risk is calls for caution.

The best line of action to take is to avoid such infection by taking vaccination on time. If have contact with an infected person when you are pregnant and you have not taken the vaccination it is necessary that you meet with your doctor immediately so that medical attention will be given to you.

How Premature Birth Is Related to One of the Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Premature birth also known as preterm means the birth of a baby before the completion of the normal period of pregnancy. It means giving birth to a baby before the completion of 37 or 42 weeks of pregnancy. The actual cause of preterm is not yet known but there are many factors that can induce preterm birth. Premature birth can cause a number of medical complications in babies that are born preterm especially before the completion of 37 weeks. Though preterm birth does not necessary lead to cerebral palsy but it is one of the causes of this medical disorder.

Brain injury or damage is the major cause of Cerebral Palsy which is a brain disorder marked by the lack of body and muscle control especially around the limps. Brain damage can occur in many ways including premature birth. There are two different ways through which brain damage can occur in premature babies, namely, infections causing brain damage and lack of oxygen.

Lack of Oxygen

The lung is an important organ of the body through which the body takes in oxygen and gives out carbon dioxide. This sponge like organ does not develop on time. It is one of the organs of the body that develops during the last stage of pregnancy. This puts the babies born prematurely at the high risk of developing cerebral palsy resulting from brain damage caused by the lack of oxygen getting into their body system. As scientific studies have shown, one of the causes of brain damage which is the major cause of cerebral palsy is lack of oxygen. So, if the lung is not properly developed and it is not functioning very well, brain damage can occur and this can finally lead to cerebral palsy in premature born babies.

Infection at the Time of Premature Birth

The premature brain white matter can be damaged or injured during preterm birth by some infections. Damage to the brain white matter during preterm birth is called periventricular leukomalacia abbreviated as (PVL). Periventricular leukomalacia can cause cerebral palsy in a premature born baby. Rubella also known as German measles is one of the infections that can cause brain damage in a premature born baby.

However, the above does not mean that every premature born baby must suffer from cerebral palsy. It is only saying that preterm born babies are more liable to suffer from cerebral palsy than babies that are delivered after the normal pregnancy length.

Though improvement in obstetrics has reduced the cases of preterm birth and cerebral palsy, pregnant women should make every effort to avoid preterm birth in order to reduce the risk of brain damage and cerebral palsy. However, in cases where preterm is unavoidable, every known medical steps should be taken to help the babies lung develop fully. This will help to avoid lack of oxygen which can lead to brain damage. Pregnant women should try to treat themselves of every infection so that they will not cause problem to their babies. 

How Injury in the Brain during Birth Leads to Cerebral Palsy in Babies

Cerebral palsy is a brain disorder that is caused by brain injury or brain damage either during pregnancy, birth or after birth. People suffering from this disorder lack muscle control especially around the limbs. Cerebral palsy is also marked by the lack of body movement. However, it is not a life threatening disease. Up to 10 to 15 percent of the cases of cerebral palsy occur during birth. Besides brain injury during birth, mistakes from the medical personnel during childbirth can also lead to cerebral palsy during childbirth.

Generally, there are three conditions during childbirth that can lead to brain damage, which in turn will cause cerebral palsy in a newborn baby. They are

  • Risks of reduced glucose levels

  • Reduced oxygen dangers

  • Trauma dangers

It is possible for two or three of these conditions to occur at the same time. Any of these conditions can also be caused or aggravated by medical errors. Let us examine them one after the other.

Reduced Glucose Levels

Brain damage, which is the major cause of cerebral palsy, can occur during delivery if there is drop in the level of the blood sugar of the new born baby. It is possible for the blood sugar level of a newborn baby to drop during delivery. This situation normally occurs if there is extended labor or delivery. If a woman has lengthy delivery, it is important for the medical personnel to check the blood sugar of the newborn baby to see if it has dropped and give the newborn baby adequate treatment if the blood glucose level drops otherwise the baby may suffer from cerebral palsy.

Reduced Oxygen

The fetus is connected to the mother through the placenta and it receives nourishment from the mother through the placenta. During delivery, the placenta provides the baby with oxygen. If anything happens to the placenta and no oxygen is provided to the baby, such condition can lead to brain damage, which can cause cerebral palsy. There are certain situations that cause damage to the placenta.

  • High or low blood pressure, which can cause eclampsia to the woman in labor.

  • Improper use of oxytocin or pitocin can cause damage to the placenta. This hormone causes the placenta to contract during prolonged delivery. If it induces the placenta to contract too frequent, it can stop the flow of blood to the baby.

Lack of oxygen to the brain of new baby can also be caused by compression of or damage to the umbilical cord.


There are different ways through which trauma can be caused to newborn baby during delivery. Some of the ways are prolonged contractions, pushing the head of the baby violently against the mother’s pelvic bone, misuse of forceps or vacuum extractors leading to the tearing of brain tissue and blood vessels, cerebral bleeding and contusions.

These and other medical errors are some of the things that can cause brain damage, which is the major cause of cerebral palsy during childbirth.

Author likes to read and submit articles about health, child health to be specific.You can visit About Cerebral Palsy to know about how Lawyers who are also doctors can help you with the cerebral palsy case.