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Biophysical Profile Testing

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The Biophysical Profile can be used to check on your baby.

The Biophysical Profile can be used to check on your baby.

Photo © A.D.A.M.

Why the test is done:

This test can be done in the later stages of pregnancy. It is more frequently used in cases where the mother is going past her assigned due date to ensure fetal well-being. In some cases it is done as a precaution after problems in a previous pregnancy or because of high risk factors such as previous pregnancy loss in the second half of pregnancy, high blood pressure, diabetes, intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), etc.

How the test is done:

This test is usually done in your practitioner's office. One of the major parts of the BPP is a detailed ultrasound. During the ultrasound the technician is looking for movements of your baby's arms and legs (muscle tone), movements of the body, breathing movements (moving chest muscles), and the measurement of amniotic fluid. The second portion of the test consists of a non-stress test.

When the test is done:

This test is most frequently done between weeks 38 and 42, however, it can be used as early as the beginning of the third trimester.

How the results are given:

Your baby will be scored on five things during the test. A score of 0 (abnormal) or 2 (normal) will be given in each of these categories:

  • muscle tone
  • body movements
  • breathing movements
  • amniotic fluid levels
  • heart rate

A score of below 6 is worrisome and action will probably be taken, which may include induction or cesarean section. 6 is considered borderline. The test may be repeated as often as daily until the baby is born, though most often it is a one time event or a weekly event depending on the reason for the biophysical profile.

Risks involved:

  • misinterpretation of the data
  • exposure to ultrasound

Alternatives:

Stress testing.

Where do you go from here?

If the baby is still not as responsive as they would like you may either go to a stress test or even induction or cesarean section.

Readers Respond: Why did you have a biophysical profile and what was it like?

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