HC Deb 01 February 1983 vol 36 cc77-8W
Dr. Roger Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to improve the control of the effects, particularly the incidence of deafness in young children, of congenitally acquired rubella.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Hearing loss, whatever the cause, can seriously hinder a child's emotional, social and language development. The Department therefore attaches great importance to the need to screen all children for hearing defects at an early stage and to ensure that prompt action is taken to assess and treat those found to suffer hearing loss. Close co-operation is encouraged between health, education and social services in order to ensure early multi-disciplinary assessment, prompt follow-up action and periodic review.

Dr. Roger Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, in order to avoid women being vaccinated against rubella about the time they may become pregnant, he will consider introducing a campaign to ensure that by the age of 12 years all females have either been successfully vaccinated or show evidence of adequate immunity against the disease.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

It is Government policy, based on advice from the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation, that schoolgirls should be immunised against rubella between their 10th and 14th birthdays. In 1981, 84 per cent. of schoolgirls had been immunised by the age of 14. Health authorities have been made aware of the need to improve uptake still further, and the Department is considering ways of encouraging greater uptake of immunisation among both schoolgirls and unimmunised adult women.

Mr. Weetch

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many pregnancies were terminated in the various area health authorities within the East Anglian regional health authority in the past five years in respect of (a) maternal rubella disease, (b) maternal rubella contact and (c) maternal rubella immunisation.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

The information requested is not routinely available at sub-regional level and could be produced only at disproportionate cost. Figures for East Anglian regional health authority, 1974 to 1978, are as follows:

1974 1975 1976 1977 1978
Legal abortions associated with:
maternal rubella disease 26 37 7 3 23
maternal rubella contact 9 4 3 1
maternal rubella immunisation 2 6 3 1

Similar data for 1979 to 1981 will be published in the second quarter of 1983 in an OPCS monitor series AB.

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