The number of premature births is rising and scientists are developing a new way to detect problems earlier.
Natalie Mancilla found out her baby Adam, had a life-threatening birth defect when she was only five months pregnant.
"He had a diaphragmatic hernia and he needed to have surgery right after birth."
Adam's diaphragm was not fully formed and the doctor's gave no hope for his survival. Natalie then found Shands Children's Hospital on the internet. The program saves 92 percent of babies like Adam.
Natalie then became full of hope and fear.
"If he was going to be alive, if he was going to make it after surgery, if he was going to have any kind of other defects."
Brain damage is commonly found with premature babies. University of Florida researchers have studied blood samples taken from preemies and as they looked for a way to detect fragments of broken brain cells in the blood.
""We developed a test that will rapidly detect the presence of a protein which can only come from damaged axons, which are the wires that connect brain cells together," said Gerry Shaw, Ph.D., Cellular Neurobiologist.
The protein that researchers find in damaged axons is not found in a healthy person's blood.
"When the nervous system is damaged, the protein that we're looking at is actually this red stuff and this is what's released into the serum or the blood after an injury," said Shaw.
The next step for researchers is to find out if the levels of protein correspond with the degree of brain damage.
Adam is now healthy and doing fine and at only one-moth-old, he has beaten the odds.
"I just want to take him home," said Mancilla. "That's basically it, I'm anxious to go home."
A blood test for brain injuries would be helpful in emergencies such as car crashes and sports accidents.