Biophysical Profile (BPP)
How It Feels
Lying on your back (or side) during the
test may be uncomfortable. During a fetal ultrasound, you may have a feeling of
pressure in your bladder. The gel may feel cool when it is first applied to
your stomach. You will feel a light pressure from the transducer as it passes
over your abdomen.
There is very little chance of either the mother
or the baby having a problem from a biophysical profile (BPP). But you may feel
anxious if the ultrasound reveals a problem with your pregnancy or baby. A
nonstress test may falsely show distress in a baby that is actually
A biophysical profile (BPP) test measures
the health of your baby (fetus) during pregnancy. The results
are scores on five measurements in a 30-minute observation period.
A score of 8 to 10 points means that your baby is healthy. A score of 6
to 8 points means that you may need to be retested in 12 to 24 hours. A score
of 4 or less may mean the baby is having problems. Further testing will be
| Measurement || Normal (2 points)|| Abnormal (0 points)|
| Nonstress test|
2 or more heart rate increases of at least 15 beats per minute. Each increase lasts 15 seconds or more and is seen with movement.
Only 1 heart rate increase is seen, or the heart rate does
not increase by more than 15 beats with movement.
| Breathing movement|
1 or more breathing movements last at least 60
Breathing movement lasts less than 60 seconds, or no
breathing is seen.
| Body movement|
3 or more movements of the arms, legs, or body
Less than 3 movements of the arms, legs, or
| Muscle tone|
Arms and legs are usually flexed and the head rests on the
chest. 1 or more extensions and return to flexion are seen, such as the opening
and closing of a hand.
The fetus extends slowly and only returns partway to a
The fetus extends but does not return to a normal
The arms, legs, or spine are extended, or a hand is
| Amniotic fluid volume (amniotic fluid index)|
- One or more pockets of amniotic fluid are seen in the uterus, each at least 1 cm (0.4 in.) wide and long.
- The amniotic fluid index is between 5 cm (2 in.) and 24 cm (9.4 in.).2
Not enough amniotic fluid is seen in the uterus.
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
- The baby is in a position that makes doing an
- Being unable to lie still throughout the
procedure, which can cause the picture of your baby to be
- Being overweight, which may make it hard to correctly
position the external monitoring device.
- An infection in either you
or your baby.
- Low (hypoglycemia) or high (hyperglycemia) blood
- Taking medicine, such as magnesium
- Steroids given to help the baby's lungs
- Using alcohol or illegal drugs, such as
- In rare cases, stool (feces) or air in the intestines or
rectum interfering with the fetal ultrasound.