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Biophysical Profile

What is a biophysical profile?

A biophysical profile (BPP) is a way to check the health of your baby during the later part of the pregnancy. A BPP uses ultrasound to:

  • See how the baby is behaving by looking at the baby’s muscle tone and movements.
  • Check the amount of fluid around the baby.
  • Measure the growth of the baby.
  • Look at the position of the baby and the placenta in the uterus.

Sometimes a nonstress test is also done during the BPP. A nonstress test uses a machine called a fetal monitor to watch the baby’s heart rate for at least 20 minutes.

The BPP test results are given a score of 0 to 10. This score helps your healthcare provider know more about your baby's health and if anything needs to be done to try to help the health of the baby.

When is it used?

A biophysical profile may be done if the result of a nonstress test of the baby is nonreactive. Nonreactive means that the baby did not move enough during the test or the baby's heart rate did not change as expected when the baby did move.

Healthcare providers usually recommend a biophysical profile during the third trimester of high-risk pregnancies. In some high-risk pregnancies a biophysical profile is done once or twice a week. The goal of the testing is to find problems your baby might have as early as possible.

How do I prepare for this test?

Your healthcare provider will discuss the procedure with you and give you any special instructions.

What happens during the test?

During a BPP, a nonstress test of the baby’s heart rate is usually done first. Then the ultrasound scan is done.

The nonstress test uses an external fetal monitor attached to your abdomen with belts to look at how the baby's heart rate changes when the baby moves.

  • A nonstress test result is called reactive (healthy) when the score is 2.
  • A nonstress test result is called nonreactive when the score is 0.

During the ultrasound exam 4 things are checked and given a score of 0 or 2:

  • The amount of amniotic fluid
  • The baby’s movements
  • The baby's muscle tone
  • Practice breathing movements made by the baby

What happens after the test?

From the results of the tests your healthcare provider will calculate a score for the biophysical profile.

  • A score of 8 or 10 is considered normal.
  • A score of 6 is considered borderline and the test may be repeated or other tests will be done.
  • A score of 4 or less suggests there may be problems.

Your healthcare provider will discuss any necessary treatment with you. Your provider may want to repeat the biophysical profile or deliver the baby before your due date.

What are the risks of this test?

This test has no known risks. The sound waves used for ultrasound scanning are not dangerous.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
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