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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Learn More About Congenital Rubella Syndrome

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, March 14, 2007  
Contact Information:  Gwenda Bond or Beth Crace, (502) 564-6786  

 Bluegrass Regional MH/MR Board to Hold Workshop

The Bluegrass Regional Mental Health/Mental Retardation Board is hosting an educational workshop, “Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS): From Research to Practice,” to spread the word about CRS and its impact on mental health.

The workshop will be March 22-23 at Bluegrass Regional offices, 1251 Newtown Pike, Lexington, and will feature presenters Nancy O’Donnell and Marlyn Minkin. Both have worked extensively with individuals affected by CRS.

The workshop starts at 10 a.m. March 22, and 8:30 a.m. March 23. Session topics will include an update on CRS research and the relationship between CRS and mental health. The workshop is free, but participants will be limited to 50. Further information can be obtained by contacting Marcie Rogers Jeffers, statewide coordinator for mental health services for the deaf and hard of hearing, at (502) 564-4448 (V) and (502) 564-5777 (TTY).

The rubella virus causes rubella, also known as German measles, once a common childhood disease. The virus can pose a serious risk as it can be transmitted from a mother to her developing baby through the bloodstream via the placenta. If the mother is infected within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, the baby will have CRS. From 1963-65, there was an epidemic of rubella in the United States, which led to many babies being born deaf and blind.

Made available in 1969, a rubella vaccine has dramatically reduced the number of cases in the United States. However, many Americans continue to cope with the lingering effects of earlier cases of CRS. Adult service providers, especially mental health professionals, are beginning to see late manifestations in the form of behavioral changes in addition to increased incidence of obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. 

Bluegrass Regional organized this workshop because information regarding the adult CRS population is limited. Both O’Donnell and Minkin will discuss the impact of CRS among populations they have worked with.

O’Donnell is coordinator of special projects at the Helen Keller National Center. She has a master’s degree from San Francisco State University’s Deaf-Blind Program and is a certified teacher of the speech and hearing impaired. O’Donnell has worked in the field of deaf-blindness for 30 years in a variety of capacities. 

Minkin is a counselor and consultant in private practice in the Seattle area. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a licensed mental health counselor. Minkin began her career in the Midwest as a teacher of the deaf during the beginning of the rubella epidemic. She later relocated to Seattle where she was recruited to work in a parent/infant preschool program that had 60 newly enrolled deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind children as a result of the rubella epidemic. She later returned to graduate school and became a therapist.


Last Updated 3/14/2007