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Recognizing Congenital Pressure Injuries

A Case Series

Johnson, Deanna E.

Journal of Wound Ostomy & Continence Nursing: January/February 2019 - Volume 46 - Issue 1 - p 65–68
doi: 10.1097/WON.0000000000000487
Challenges in Practice

BACKGROUND: Soft tissue injuries recognized at birth are a common occurrence and well described in the medical literature. Despite this, there has been no discussion of congenital pressure injuries. In this Clinical Challenges article, I describe 3 cases in which congenital skin injuries have occurred, all of which meet the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel definition for a pressure injury and are demonstrably not the result of other etiologies.

CASES: Over a 6-month period, in a 44-bed level III-IV neonatal intensive care unit, 3 patients were identified and diagnosed with congenital pressure injuries. All were born to mothers who presented with significantly diminished or a near-absence of amniotic fluid. The amniotic fluid provides essential cushioning for the developing fetus. A number of well-described conditions result from alterations in the character and volume of the amniotic fluid during gestation. Among these is a correlation between severely diminished fluid volume and congenital contractures resulting from immobility of the fetus as it is compressed against the uterine wall. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to speculate that this immobility and pressure could be the very same mechanism that created our congenital pressure injuries noted in these patients. The stages of the congenital pressure injuries noted were a stage 1, a stage 2, and also a deep tissue pressure injury. One infant succumbed to conditions related to extreme prematurity prior to healing, while the other 2 patients' injuries healed without complication or apparent long-term sequelae.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite their absence in the medical literature, I assert that congenital pressure injuries occur and are clinically relevant. This lack of recognition and description risks unnecessary diagnostic procedures and inappropriate or delayed treatment.

Deanna E. Johnson, MA, APRN, NNP-BC, CWON, Children's Hospital and Clinics, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Correspondence: Deanna E. Johnson, APRN, NNP-BS, CWON, Children's Hospital and Clinics, 2525 Chicago Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55404 (

There are no conflicts of interest to declare.

© 2019 by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society.