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Biophysical Profile (BPP)

A biophysical profile (BPP) test measures the health of your baby (fetus) during pregnancy. A BPP test may include a nonstress test with electronic fetal heart monitoring and a fetal ultrasound. The BPP measures your baby's heart rate, muscle tone, movement, breathing, and the amount of amniotic fluid around your baby.

A BPP is commonly done in the last trimester of pregnancy. If there is a chance that your baby may have problems during your pregnancy (high-risk pregnancy), a BPP may be done by 32 to 34 weeks or earlier. Some women with high-risk pregnancies may have a BPP test every week or twice a week in the third trimester.

Why It Is Done

A biophysical profile (BPP) test is done to:

  • Learn about and keep track of your baby's health. Special ultrasound methods are used to keep track of movement, increases in heart rate with movement (nonstress test), muscle tone, breathing rate, and the amount of amniotic fluid (amniotic fluid index) surrounding your baby. If these five areas are within a normal range, your baby is considered to be in good health.
  • Check on your baby's health if you have:

How To Prepare

You may need a full bladder for the test. If so, you will be asked to drink water or other liquids just before the test and to avoid urinating before or during the test. Usually women in the third trimester do not need to have a full bladder.

If you smoke, you will be asked to stop smoking for 2 hours before the external monitoring test because smoking decreases your baby's activity.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

Most often, a biophysical profile (BPP) is performed by your obstetrician. But it may be done by an ultrasound technologist or radiologist. A BPP can be done in your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic.

A nonstress test with electronic fetal heart monitoring and a fetal ultrasound are done as part of a biophysical profile. See a picture of fetal ultrasound camera.gif and external monitoring camera.gif.

Some doctors may use a modified biophysical profile, which combines a nonstress test and measurements of the amniotic fluid (amniotic fluid index).

Nonstress test

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 18, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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