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Measles, mumps, and rubella immunization in infants, children, and adolescents

Jan E Drutz, MD
Section Editors
Teresa K Duryea, MD
Morven S Edwards, MD
Deputy Editor
Mary M Torchia, MD


Childhood and adolescent immunizations are one of the most effective means of preventing serious illness. Combination measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) immunization in infants, children, and adolescents will be discussed here, focusing on routine immunization of children in the United States. Our recommendations are consistent with those of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

MMR immunization in adults is discussed separately. (See "Measles, mumps, and rubella immunization in adults".)


The measles virus causes an acute infection characterized by fever, cough, coryza, conjunctivitis, rash (picture 1A-B), and enanthem (picture 2) that may be followed by severe complications, including encephalitis. (See "Measles: Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention".)

The mumps virus causes an acute viral syndrome with parotid swelling (picture 3). Mumps infection usually is self-limited but may be associated with complications, including orchitis and oophoritis, aseptic meningitis, and encephalitis. (See "Mumps", section on 'Clinical manifestations'.)

The rubella virus causes German measles, a generally mild infection with a characteristic rash (picture 4) that can affect both children and adults. However, rubella infection can cause significant birth defects (eg, hearing loss; cataracts (picture 5); cardiac disease; and neurodevelopmental effects, including intellectual disability and autism) if it occurs early in fetal life. (See "Rubella", section on 'Clinical manifestations' and "Rubella in pregnancy" and "Congenital rubella syndrome: Clinical features and diagnosis", section on 'Clinical features'.)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 31, 2017.
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