§ Mr. Alton
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the recent figures for rubella damage amongst babies, and the estimate that the number in 1979 will be considerably larger following the 1978 epidemic; and what further measures he will take to deal with rubella in the coming year.
§ Sir George Young
Thirty-one cases of congenital rubella were reported to the422W National Congenital Rubella Surveillance Programme during the period 1 July 1977 to 30 June 1978, the latest date for which figures are available. There may well be an increase in the number of cases in 1979 because of the increased incidence of rubella in 1978. There is, however, some evidence of an increase in the number of terminations of pregnancy on grounds of rubella infection; and this will affect the figures for 1978–79. Furthermore, these figures will not fully reflect the position because a diagnosis of congenital rubella may not be evident until some years after birth.
This month we have launched a national publicity campaign, with supporting administrative action, aimed at reducing the incidence of rubella among women of child-bearing age by increasing the take-up of rubella vaccine.