Neonatal transport in the Northern Region of Portugal: from past to present

Hercília Guimarães, Manuela Rodrigues, Mário Mateus


The authors aim to provide a description of the beginning of neonatal transport in Portugal and remember all professionals, doctors and nurses who voluntarily dedicated themselves to this cause for more than two decades with great commitment.
Neonatal transport is essential and a valid alternative to the best transport for the newborn – the mother’s womb. It is part of a perinatal regionalization program to ensure that newborns are born in facilities with a care level definition that is consistent with expected pregnancy outcomes. In Portugal, it dates back to three decades ago, thanks to the institution of the Neonatal Transport System, in the context of regionalization of perinatal health care in the country, and was organized on a voluntary basis up to 2011. During this period neonatologists and nurses trained in neonatal intensive care worked extra hours in the neonatal transport. Since 2011, a team specialized in intensive pediatric care replaced the previous one.
Nowadays there is no reliable evidence from randomized trials to support or refute the effects of specialist neonatal transport teams for neonatal retrieval on infant morbidity and mortality. Continuous and regular education, training and practice are essential key elements in the success and outcome of high risk newborns.
Further development is required to optimize the use of available resources, to develop benchmarking to ensure a high quality sustainable service and to provide us with answers on effectiveness and clinical outcomes.


neonatal transport; high risk infant; perinatal regionalization; neonatal intensive care

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