We have used the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to provide a very sensitive and unequivocal test for diagnosis of foetal rubella virus infection. RNA extracted from biopsy specimens (chorionic villi), placenta or products of conception was reversetranscribed using a rubella virus-specific oligonucleotide primer and the cDNA was amplified by PCR. The specificity of the amplified fragment was confirmed by Southern blotting. Detection of rubella virus infection in five out of 41 clinical specimens examined by this approach was shown to be entirely consistent with clinical history and other methods of laboratory diagnosis in current use. The sensitivity of the test and the unequivocal nature of the results obtained could be invaluable in providing prenatal counselling following rubella virus infection during pregnancy.


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