Over a three year period 444 requests for the neonatal transfer of babies with acute medical problems were received at this regional neonatal medical unit. Despite an increase in available resources in the North Western Health Region the provision of intensive care remained inadequate with 38% of requests declined, and babies had to be referred elsewhere including to neighbouring health regions. The survival of those babies who had to remain at the hospital of birth (49%) was significantly lower than for those transferred to the regional centre (71%). Those babies declined admission had significantly lower gestational ages and birth weights than those accepted. For those babies with respiratory failure and birth weights of less than 1500 g within these two groups, however, there were no significant differences in birth weight, gestational age, or gender yet survival was significantly better for those transferred. Babies from multiple pregnancies caused particular problems if neonatal transfer was required.
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