Biophysical Profile

What is a biophysical profile?

A biophysical profile (BPP) is a way to check the health of your baby during pregnancy. A BPP uses sound waves (ultrasound) and a nonstress test to:

  • Check the baby’s heart rate
  • Check the baby’s muscle tone and movements
  • Check the baby’s breathing
  • Check the amount of fluid around the baby

When is it used?

Your healthcare provider may recommend a BPP after your 28th week of pregnancy if:

  • Other prenatal tests show lack of movement, no change in the baby’s heart rate when the baby did move, or lack of growth of the baby.
  • You have a high-risk condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • You had problems in a previous pregnancy, such as a baby who died at birth.
  • You have noticed that your baby is moving less.
  • You are past your due date.
  • You are pregnant with more than 1 baby (for example, twins or triplets).
  • There is too little or too much amniotic fluid surrounding the baby

In some pregnancies a BPP is done once or twice a week. The goal of the testing is to find possible problems as early as possible.

How do I prepare for this test?

Your healthcare provider will discuss the procedure with you. Usually there are no special preparations needed for the test.

Talk to your provider if you have any questions about the test.

What happens during the test?

During a BPP, the nonstress test is usually done first. Then the ultrasound scan is done.

  • The nonstress test uses a monitor attached to your belly with belts to look at how the baby’s heart rate changes when the baby moves. It’s normal for your baby to move at least twice in 20 minutes and for the baby’s heart rate to go up with each movement.
  • For the ultrasound, a small device is placed on your belly. A gel is put on your skin to improve the contact between your belly and the device. The device is connected to a computer with a display screen. High-frequency sound waves pass from the device through your body. You cannot hear the sound waves. As the sound waves pass through your body, they bounce off the organs and tissue to show pictures of your uterus, the baby, and the tissue and fluid that surrounds and protects your baby.

The nonstress test usually takes about 20 minutes, and the ultrasound may take 15 to 30 minutes.

What happens after the test?

The BPP test results are given a score of 0 to 10.

  • A score of 8 or 10 is normal.
  • If the score is 6 or lower, more tests are needed. In some cases your provider may want to deliver the baby early or right away.

What are the risks of this test?

This test has no risks for you or the baby.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-05-07
Last reviewed: 2014-09-21
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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