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Prenatal Checkups & Tests

What Is A Biophysical Profile?

I'm scheduled for a biophysical profile soon. What should I expect during the test?

A biophysical profile is a painless, noninvasive test used to evaluate baby's well-being, and is usually performed when pregnancy extends past the expected due date and in the third trimester of high-risk pregnancies. The test consists of an ultrasound and a nonstress test, and uses five different measures to create an overall picture of baby's health.

Your doc will assess baby's body movement, muscle tone, breathing movements and amount of amniotic fluid during the ultrasound, and fetal heart rate during the nonstress test. Each component will be rated zero (abnormal) or two (normal), and then added together to determine an overall score of zero to ten. An eight or ten is normal, six is borderline, and anything below six is cause for concern.

After normal test results, your doc will likely recommend repeating the procedure once or twice a week until delivery to ensure baby's continued well-being. If the test shows reason to be concerned, your doctor may suggest a Doppler ultrasound study, a contraction stress test, or immediate labor induction or c-section.

Expert: American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. Your pregnancy and birth. 4th ed. Washington, DC: ACOG; 2005.