Causes of deafblindness

Rubella is the main cause of children being born deafblind in developing countries, and yet there has been a vaccine since the early 1970s.

What causes deafblindness?

If a pregnant woman catches rubella in early pregnancy, it can also damage the developing baby. The effects can vary enormously, but hearing loss, visual difficulties and heart problems are common. This is called Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS).

In the UK, the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccination means that rubella has almost disappeared from the population.

Severe infections during early childhood can also lead to deafblindness. In developing countries, cerebral malaria and meningitis are some of the main causes.

Many of these children will have other difficulties, such as physical and learning disabilities, feeding problems and severe mobility problems.

First published: Tuesday 20 August 2013
Last updated: Thursday 21 September 2017