Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Mumbai, India

Neonatal Transport Incubator

Delivery of a newborn may be related with some problems starting from premature birth to complex congenital diseases making it necessary for the baby to be transported to a specialised facility called a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Clinical evidences suggested that interventions implemented during neonatal transport may reduce and prevent neurodevelopmental complications and improve outcome in neonates. One of the major concerns of neonatal transport is temperature regulation of the sick baby which if not maintained can cause cold stress and metabolic effects which further worsen the condition of the neonate. This is achieved by equipment known as Neonatal Transport Incubator.

An incubator is an apparatus used to maintain environmental conditions, such as temperature & humidity, suitable for a newborn baby. A transport incubator is an incubator in a transportable form, and is used when a sick or premature baby is moved, e.g., from one hospital to another, as from a community hospital to a larger medical facility with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It usually has a miniature ventilator, cardio-respiratory monitor, IV pump, pulse oximeter, and oxygen supply built into its frame. It is mostly used during transport of preterm babies or for some ill full-term babies.

It facilitates:

  • Sophisticated measurement of temperature, respiration and oxygenation
  • Oxygen supplementation by head hood or nasal cannula, or even Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) or mechanical ventilation
  • Protection from cold temperature, infection, noise, drafts and excess handling
  • Provision of nutrition, through intravenous catheter or NG tube
  • Administration of medications
  • Maintaining fluid balance by providing fluid and keeping a high air humidity to prevent heat loss from skin and respiratory evaporation

The Incubator helps to maintain a stable microenvironment. A neonatal incubator is a device consisting of a rigid box-like enclosure in which an infant may be kept in a controlled environment for medical care. The device may include an AC-powered heater, a fan to circulate the warmed air, a control valve through which oxygen may be added, and access ports for nursing care. It may also contain a servo control to help regulate incubator air temperature. The servo control uses a temperature sensing thermistor, which is taped to the childs abdomen. Available servo control systems automatically adjust the oxygen and humidity outputs to remain at user-programmed levels.

The Incubator needs to comply with all applicable international quality standards of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) regarding maximum temperature and humidity. These standards are monitored on a regular basis. Unit surfaces are designed for swift and thorough cleaning minimising risk of infection. If these standards are not monitored and not complied with, it can cause complications like overheating of the baby and infections.

Neonatal Transport Incubator helps to institute protocolised care of the sick newborn during transport and significantly reduces the neonatal morbidity and thereby mortality, also reduces the hospital stay and associated expenses.