Updated: 2019, Jul 6

Biophysical Profile: Risk, Procedure, Benefits and More

Biophysical Profile: Risk, Procedure, Benefits and More

What is Biophysical Profile Test?

A Biophysical Profile (BPP) test consists of 4 ultrasound evaluations and a NST. It is important as we can learn a lot about the baby’s health. Keeping track of movements, increases in heart rate, muscle tone, breathing rate and the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding your child is achieved by using special ultrasound methods. Those produce images of the baby in the uterus using high frequency sound waves.

There is also a second form called the “Modified Biophysical Profile” which only consists of the NST and the amniotic fluid index.

What does BPP Score Tells about Baby’s Health?

A score will show you how the state of your baby’s health is. The score’s name that is used among professionals is Manning’s score.

8 to 10 points: Your baby is healthy.

6 to 8 points: Another test in 12 to 24 hours.

4 or less points: The baby is having problems. Further testing will be done.

  • Muscle tone
  • Body movements
  • Breathing movements
  • Amniotic fluid levels
  • Heart Rate

Is there any Risk behind BPP Test?

A huge majority of doctors think that he probability of risks and side effects to the mother and/or baby are fairly low. However, some doctors do raise concerns if the tests have to be done for longer periods. Some mothers might feel uneasy about the test results or they might be unlucky and receive wrong results even though their baby is perfectly fine or get a result that does not indicate any problems even though the opposite is the case.

Biophysical Profile

When it is performed?

Generally, a BPP is done in the late pregnancy – more specifically, after 32 weeks of pregnancy. A test may be done 32/34 weeks earlier because of possible complications during the pregnancy. Most of the time you only have to do it once but some mothers need to do it more frequently due to complications. Also, at 24/26 weeks your baby might be taken out if the test results indicate that this step is obligatory.

When to Have Biophysical Profile Test?

If the pregnancy is considered at high risk after a doctor’s examination a BPP needs to be done.
In detail:

  • The pregnancy is past 40 weeks or post the due date.
  • You will give birth to multiples (twins or more).
  • You have had to suffer a stillbirth.
  • You are experiencing a complication of amniotic fluid.
  • You suffer from diabetes or gestational diabetes high blood pressure.
  • You have preeclampsia or other hypertensive disorder.
  • Other pregnancy complications that should be looked at.
  • A test needs to me retaken due to possible complications.

See Also – Health Problems Encounter during Pregnancy

Procedure for Biophysical Profile Test

BPP’s are usually done by obstetricians, ultrasound technologists or radiologists, with an obstetrician being the most likely one to perform it on you. It will either take place at his/her office or you will have to go to a hospital or clinic.

  • Non-Stress Test: Before, during and after it doctors will monitor your blood pressure. During the NST two belts with two flat devices (sensors) are being attached, one to analyze the fetal heart rate and the other one to measure the duration of contractions. These are connected to a machine that records everything. It may take longer as the baby may be asleep. If it does not wake up after 20-30 minutes a nurse will have to do it using a “buzzer” to measure the movement, heart rate and “reactivity”. Drinking a glass of water or making a loud noise will also be able to wake your child up. However, if your baby moves or you can feel contractions, you might get asked by the nurse or doctor to push a button on the machine to achieve better and more accurate results. Those results will be discussed with you straight away after the test has been done.
  • Ultrasound: It is similar to any other obstetrical ultrasounds which are performed during pregnancy. You will see two specialists, a qualified ultrasound technician who is overseen by a perinatologist. The ultrasound may take up to an hour. Lying on your back (or side) during the test may be uncomfortable – especially during a fetal ultrasound as you might experience a feeling of pressure in your bladder.

For the fetal ultrasound you usually just have to lift your shirt and push down the waistband of your pants. To begin, you might get asked to drink a few glasses of water an hour before the test as a full bladder will make the tests and therefore the ultrasound pictures easier and clearer.


Peony C Echavez

Peony is a registered nurse and former Director of Nursing services for a large nursing facility. She has written web content for a lar

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