PALO ALTO, Calif. - You could say Haven and his mom are both heroes.
"I tell people this is like a war zone, only this time it's not my life on the line," said Haven's mother, Amanda Smith. "It's my little innocent child's."
Smith, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran and NATO Medal of Honor recipient, gave birth to Haven 100 days early, weighing just nine-tenths of a pound.
"It's about the size of a Coke can," Smith said.
Haven is one of 450,000 babies in the United States born prematurely each year. For two-thirds of those deliveries, no one knows why.
"When people think about what tools an obstetrician has right now to look at a pregnancy, it's ultrasound and that's it," said Mira Moufarrej, a bioengineering graduate student at Stanford University.
Now, bioengineers at Stanford have developed a blood test that detects, with 80% accuracy, who will deliver early. It's something that ultrasound cannot do.
"It tells you more about what's going on in the process of building a baby and what might go wrong," Moufarrej explained.
The test looks at RNA molecules found in the mother's blood.
"Looking at those seven types of RNA molecules, they're higher in women who deliver preterm than full-term," Moufarrej said.
The team hopes doctors will then be able to start treatments that will delay delivery.
Haven spent the first 241 days of his life in the hospital, and has had seven surgeries since birth. He's on oxygen and takes 18 syringes of medication daily, but as his mom said, he's a fighter.
"I get to watch you stand up, smile, and give people hope," Smith said to Haven.
In low-resource settings, a test to predict time to delivery has tremendous potential to impact women's health, particularly for disadvantaged women with limited access to hospitals. Because a blood test is cheap and easy to use, it has the potential to complement ultrasound and expand access to good prenatal care.
Smith is documenting little Haven's journey on Facebook.