Newborn transport is necessary to move premature and other sick infants from hospitals without the specialist, intensive care facilities they need 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 100kg and present a challenge to vehicle operators in terms of weight, manual handling, crash-worthiness and power consumption.
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.
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 her infant unborn leads to inproved survival and quality of survival for the baby.