Biophysical Profile (BPP)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
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:
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:
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 is 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.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Biophysical profile. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated September 2, 2016. Accessed October 24, 2016.
Prenatal care and tests. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/you-are-pregnant/prenatal-care-tests.html. Updated September 27, 2010. Accessed October 24, 2016.
Routine prenatal care. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated June 22, 2016. Accessed October 24, 2016.
Last reviewed October 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 10/24/2016
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.