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Newborn transport is used to move premature and other sick infants from hospitals without specialist, intensive care facilities require for optimal care of the baby to hospitals with neonatal intensive care and other specialist services. Neonatal transport services such as NETS utilise mobile intensive care incubators fitted with mechanical ventilators, infusion pumps and physiological monitors capable of being used in a mobile environment. These transport systems seek to emulate the environment of a neonatal intensive care and permit un-interrupted care to occur in a referring hospital and then during the journey by road or air ambulance. Power and medical gas supplies are carried within the system as well as making use of external supplies; as available. Infant transport systems commonly weigh over 100 kg and present a challenge to vehicle operators in terms of weight, manual handling, crash-worthiness and power consumption.

Integrated neonatal life support system

Normally, regular ambulance staff and their vehicles are not equipped to transport sick newborns and special newborn transport teams are provided from either particular hospitals (hospital-based) or established to serve many hospitals (regionally-based). Team composition varies from one country to another, with options including various two or three person combinations of nurse, doctor and respiratory therapist.

A newborn stabilised and ready for transport

Typically, newborn transport teams spend some time stabilising a baby's condition prior to transport. Without adequate stabilisation, a clinical deterioration en route can be expected.

Wherever possible (and safe), in utero transfer is generally preferable to newborn transport. Transfer of the mother while still pregnant and with her infant unborn leads to improved survival and quality of survival for the baby.

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