Biophysical Profile (BPP)

Who Gets the Test?

Your doctor may recommend a BPP test if you're past your due date or have a higher risk of problems during pregnancy. You could be at higher risk because of health conditions, such as diabetes or preeclampsia. Or, you may need a BPP after a fall or other accident to make sure your baby is healthy.

What the Test Does

The BPP is a combination of tests that check your baby's health. It measures your baby's body movement and muscle tone. It also measures how fast your baby's heart rate accelerates during movement, and the amount of amniotic fluid protecting your baby in the womb.

How the Test Is Done

The BPP is safe and non-invasive. It lasts about 30 minutes.

Part of the biophysical profile is an ultrasound. This tracks your baby's movement and tests the amount of amniotic fluid. You'll lie on your back and a technician will hold the ultrasound wand against your belly. Another part of the BPP is a nonstress test that monitors your baby's heartbeat for 20 minutes. The doctor will put an elastic band with two sensors around your belly to pick up your baby's heartbeat. Some doctors start out by only doing the ultrasound part of the BPP and later may add on this nonstress test if the doctor needs more information after that is done.

What to Know About Test Results

The results of each part of the test -- heart rate, breathing, body movement, muscle tone, and amount of amniotic fluid -- are added up to form a total score. A score of eight to 10 means your baby seems healthy. Scores lower than eight usually mean that you need retesting. A very low score could indicate your baby is in distress. Your doctor could recommend early delivery.

How Often the Test Is Done During Your Pregnancy

If your doctor decides you need one, you would probably get a BPP in the last trimester. Some women get them earlier. Your doctor may suggest follow-up BPPs for the rest of your pregnancy.

Tests Similar to This One

Nonstress Test, Amniotic Fluid Index (AFI), deep pocket measurements, ultrasound, amniotic fluid volume assessment

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on October 04, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

UptoDate: The Biophysical Fetal Profile.

Johns Hopkins Manual of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 4th Edition. Lippincott Williams & Williams, 2010.

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