Biophysical Profile (BPP)
by Carla Snuggs
While you are pregnant, your doctor may order a variety of tests that evaluate the well-being of your unborn child. The biophysical profile (BPP) is a pregnancy medical test which measures the health of your baby during pregnancy. A biophysical profile includes a non-stress test with electronic fetal heart monitoring and a fetal ultrasound.
A non-stress test (NST) measures the baby’s heart rate and response to movement through the use of a fetal monitor. Electronic fetal heart monitoring keeps track of the heart rate of your baby along with the strength and length of uterine contractions. A fetal ultrasound provides information about the size, position, age, and condition of your baby.
The biophysical profile is a simple, painless test usually performed in the last trimester of pregnancy. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you might receive a biophysical test 32 to 34 weeks or earlier.
There is also a modified biophysical profile. This test is a combination of the non-stress test (NST) along with an evaluation of amniotic fluid levels. The modified biophysical profile helps determine if your baby is producing enough urine and if the placenta is functioning properly.
Your doctor may order a biophysical test if:
- You have medical conditions that may affect your pregnancy. This includes Type 1 diabetes, gestational diabetes, lupus, preeclampsia, hyperthyroidism, or gestational hypertension.
- Your baby appears to be small or is less active than usual.
- You have too much or too little amniotic fluid. In this case, a modified biophysical profile may be ordered.
- You have had any previous miscarriages in the second half of pregnancy.
- You are past your due date.
A biophysical profile test measures the overall health of your baby, and the results consist of scores on five measurements during a 30-minute observation period. According to WebMD Medical Reference these five measurements are breathing movement, body movement, muscle tone, amniotic fluid volume, and the non-stress test score. If the five scores are within normal range, your baby is considered to be relatively healthy. If not, further tests may be scheduled.
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