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congenital rubella connection to early onset/atypical alzheimers?
Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2012 9:18 PM
Joined: 7/14/2012
Posts: 55

I've already hunted around as well as I could these days and could only find one longitudinal study of people who had been born with congenital rubella (german measles contracted in the fetal stage from an infected mother)


They were looking at cancer rates and death rates overall - but I'm curious.  Most people know that congenital rubella causes all sorts of obvious severe birth defects, but did you know that some effects don't show up for years or even decades after birth?  For instance someone born with congenital rubella is 50 times more likely to have insulin-dependent diabetes or thyroid dysfunction.


My mother had german measles in her first trimester when she was pregnant with me and I do have thyroid dysfunction that is atypical and which I could not get treated until I was nearly 40 years old. 


 At that time I was not aware of the link between thyroid dysfunction and congenital rubella, and apparently neither were any of my doctors.


I've always wondered what other surprises there might be in store for me from having had congenital rubella.  There is a link to autism, a rare form of encephalopathy, and a bunch of other stuff as well. 


 The 50 year follow up study above found increased rates of death from cancer and heart disease, but they weren't looking at Alzheimers or any other cognitive issues (I think the study originated in the 70s and die a 20 year follow in the 90s, they weren't really thinking a lot about Alzheimers in the 70s so it wouldn't have been built into the original study). 


 They did find increased rates of unemployment among the group affected by congenital rubella.  No conclusions or even speculation about why that might have been.


80% of babies born to mothers who had rubella during pregnancy have mild to severe damage to at least one system (deafness, vision problems, autism, retardation, etc etc etc). 


That's just the stuff that is obvious pretty much right out of the starting gate.  I don't think anybody really knows about the possible range of longer term effects that may not be instantly obvious, decades down the road. 


I think that the majority thought is that if there isn't something horribly wrong that you can see right after birth, you totally dodged the bullet, but that doesn't seem to actually be the case.


But with so many people in my cohort on this board reporting cognitive difficulties - that group of people who were born before mass immunizations caused the drastic drop in yearly rubella epidemics that killed or damaged so many people into the mid-60s - I'm wondering if there might be a link to congenital rubella for at least some of this. 


 We know about the obvious, severe brain damage it causes - but I don't think there have been any studies looking at the possibility of long-term neurodegenerative disease that might be related to some of what is now being called "atypical" or "early onset" Alzheimers.


So I'm just wondering if anybody else in this small, non-random, totally anecdotal collection of folks here also had congenital rubella.

Iris L.
Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2012 10:52 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18508

This is an interesting hypothesis, Zen.  I have no hx of congeniital rubella .

Iris L
Posted: Monday, July 30, 2012 6:30 AM
Joined: 4/19/2012
Posts: 83

Yes, this is interesting. When I listed all the viruses I am known to have contracted, including german measles at 1 yr old, the dr said "too many viruses, not good". The viral shedding has to be disposed of by the body and can cause disruption in normal DNA replications, possibly because the pieces of the viral RNA attach to healthy DNA and cause more diffuse disease.

I'm sorry this doesn't pertain directly to congential rubella, but viruses are a problem with cognative issues. I have had 2 brain infections, one from herpes and each time I lost more cognative ability. Not fun.

Iris L.
Posted: Monday, July 30, 2012 12:02 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18508

I was referred to a virologist in consideration that I might have chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome.  The virologist decided that I did have this diagnosis, based upon his immunological and pathological testing. 

However, he had no treatment for me, other than traditional Chinese herbs to boost my immune system.  I underwent his therapy for six months and noticed no change at all.

About a year before I noticed the onset of memory loss, in June 1986, I suffered a three day episode of fever and malaise without respiratory or gi symptoms. I believed I had a viral illness.  I always believed this episode had something to do with my subsequent medical decline.  It was not the initiating event, because I had developed muscle weakness several months before the fever.

There is a belief that Alzheimer's disease may be immunologically modulated.  I believe this is so.  Just how, I don't know.

Iris L.

Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 8:00 AM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 514

Zen and Iris.  Thanks for sharing.  This was fascinating to read and think about the deductions that can be made regarding viruses, dementias, etc.


So far I can't remember anything from my life that might be pertinent.  Maybe I will?