Biophysical Profile -BPP
Biophysical profile is done during the third trimester to determine fetal health. It combines ultrasound evaluation with non fetal stress test. Biophysical profile uses an imaging technique that uses high frequency sound waves to produce images of the baby in utero. This test is done if pregnancy is considered high risk or if there is a question about fetal health resulting from maternal/fetal symptoms. The timing and necessities of a biophysical profile will be determined by your healthcare provider based on whether your baby will survive when delivered early or how severe your condition is and the risk of pregnancy loss. BPP is usually done after 32 weeks of gestation.
Why is biophysical profile performed ?
This test is done to evaluate and monitor a baby’s health. It’s goal is to detect fetal hypoxia ( when the fetus is deprived of adequate oxygen) and pregnancy loss. Your healthcare provider will recommend a biophysical profile in the following situations :
- you are carrying multiples
- have a history of pregnancy loss
- have an underlying medical condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, blood disorder or thyroid disease
- decreased fetal movement in baby
- baby is not growing well
- too much or too little amniotic fluid
- Rh (rhesus) sensitization
- prolonged pregnancy
The test may be done once or twice a week or even more depending on your health condition.
How is a biophysical profile performed ?
There are two parts to a BPP. These are non fetal stress test and a fetal ultrasound evaluation.
During the non stress test, one belt is attached to the mother’s abdomen to monitor the baby’s heart rate and how the heart rate responds to movement . This is done for about 20-30 minutes. If the baby does not move during the time of the test, it does not mean there is a problem. The baby could be asleep. A nurse will use a buzzer to wake the baby up for the remainder of the test.
The ultrasound is just like any other ultrasound done during pregnancy. The ultrasound will take about an hour. It is done by qualified technician who looks for signs that are very important in measuring fetal health. The ultrasound is overseen by a perinatologist.
What risks are associated with a biophysical profile ?
A BPP is a non invasive test and posses no physical treat to you or your baby. However some concerns have been raised on ultrasounds that are done for lengthy periods of time.
What does a biophysical profile look for ?
Each area being evaluated during a BPP is given a score of 0 or 2. This depends on whether the criteria were met or not. The total score will depend on the overall health of the baby. The results help your doctor determine whether the baby should be delivered early or not.
|Breathing||1 breathing episode within 30 minutes||No breathing episodes within 30 minutes|
|Heart rate||2 or more episodes of reactive heart rate acceleration within 20 min||1 or more episodes of unreactive heart rate acceleration|
|Movement||2 or more movements within 30 minutes||less than 2 movements within 30 minutes|
|Amniotic fluid||1 or more adequate pockets of fluid||Either no pockets or inadequate pockets of fluid|
|muscle tone||1 or more episodes of active extension/flexion of limbs, etc. (i.e. opening and closing a hand).||Slow extension/flexion of limbs, partially open fetal hand, etc|
Table Source : American Pregnancy Association
Biophysical profile. Mayo Foundation. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/biophysical-profile/basics/definition/prc-20020015. Accessed October 24, 2014
Biophysical profile. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/baby/biophysical-profile-bpp. Accessed October 20, 2014