For 15 years German measles has been known to hold serious risks for the human embryo if contracted by the expectant mother during pregnancy. Yet, little progress has been made toward control of the disease. Furthermore, no firm epidemiologic observations have been collected to confirm the clinical evidence—although this is convincing enough. Much of the epidemiologic difficulty lies in case finding, which is no simple matter when the problem concerns members of society who will not even be born for several months after a mother's infection and who will have no rash or telltale sign that means rubella and only rubella.
Appreciation of the hazard came from clinical observations in Australia, where Gregg and others showed that an epidemic of rubella in 1939 and 1940 left in its wake a whole train of pathologic consequences for unborn babies: congenital cataract, deafness, mental retardation, and heart disease. American and European reports