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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 healthy.


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 recommended.

Biophysical profile 1
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 seconds.

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 body

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 normal position.

The fetus extends but does not return to a normal position.

The arms, legs, or spine are extended, or a hand is open.

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.

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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