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Research Article

Transport of newborn infants for intensive care.

Br Med J 1975; 4 doi: (Published 04 October 1975) Cite this as: Br Med J 1975;4:13
  1. A M Blake,
  2. N McIntosh,
  3. E O Reynolds,
  4. D S Andrew


    During the three years 1972-4 222 newborn infants were transported to this hospital for intensive care. They were collected by trained staff using a specially modified transport incubator with an in-built mechanical ventilator and facilities for monitoring body temperature, heart rate, and inspired oxygen concentration. Two of the infants came from home and the rest from 41 hospitals from half a mile (0-8 km) to 50 miles (80-5 km) (median eight miles (12-9 km)) away. The mean birth weight of the infants was 1702 g (range 520-4040 g) and their mean gestational age was 32 weeks (range 24-42 weeks). The principal reasons for referral were low birth weight and severe respiratory illnesses. Altogether 109 (49%) of the infants needed mechanical ventilation in transit and another 38 (17%) needed it later. During the journey the condition of 88 (40%) of the infants was thought to improve, in 125 (56%) it was static and in nine (4%)--four of whom died--it deteriorated. A total of 142 infants (64%) survived the neonatal period. There was no correlation between the distance travelled and the survival rate. Seriously ill newborn infants may be transported safely to a referral centre within a radius of 50 miles, and the risks of the journey are negligible compared with the risks of leaving the infant in a hospital that is not staffed or equipped for neonatal intensive care.