Biophysical Profile (BPP)

Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on June 09, 2023
2 min read

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.

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.

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 - one is to pick up the baby's heartbeat. The other is to monitor any contractions. 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.

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.

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.

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