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Biophysical Profile (BPP)

The biophysical profile combines ultrasound with the nonstress test as an assessment of the physical health of the fetus. The ultrasound creates images of the fetus and the uterus. A nonstress test monitors the heartbeat of the fetus.
These tests are done late in pregnancy as the fetus matures. The following information is evaluated:
  • The amount of amniotic fluid (ultrasound)
  • Fetal breathing (ultrasound)
  • Fetal body movement (ultrasound)
  • Fetal muscle tone (ultrasound)
  • Fetal heart rate (nonstress test)
Each factor assessed in the biophysical profile is assigned a numerical score based on the findings. A total numerical score is determined. The score may be used by your doctor to determine if special care and certain adjustments are needed during your pregnancy and delivery.

Who Should Undergo This Test?

Your doctor may recommend this test, as well as other tests, if you have a medical condition that could put you at risk for having problems with your pregnancy or there are problems with the fetus. Examples of conditions that could put you and your baby at risk include:
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Too much or too little amniotic fluid
  • Poor growth of fetus
  • Reduced fetal movements
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Post-term pregnancy
  • Multiple pregnancy (2 or more fetuses)

What Are the Risks of BPP Testing?

BPP testing is safe and noninvasive. It is not known to cause any harm to you or your baby. Since it is generally advised for high-risk pregnancies, it may cause you stress and anxiety. Your doctor may suggest other tests to gather important information about the health of your fetus. A concerning test result often suggests that you need special care or may need to deliver earlier than planned. It does not necessarily mean that your fetus is in trouble.
Many factors can affect the reliability of a BPP test. A test may suggest a problem that actually does not exist. This called a false positive. A test may also miss an illness that actually does exist. This is called a false negative.
Your doctor will be able to answer questions and discuss any concerns you have about this form of monitoring.


American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians


American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians


Health Canada
Women's Health Matters


Biophysical profile. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: Updated August 2013. Accessed December 12, 2014.
Prenatal care and tests. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: Updated September 27, 2010. Accessed December 12, 2014.
Routine prenatal care. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated December 4, 2014. Accessed December 12, 2014.

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