Children's Health and Wellness

Biophysical Profile (BPP)

What is a biophysical profile (BPP)?

A biophysical profile (BPP) is a test  to check the health of your baby in the womb. The test combines a nonstress test (NST) with ultrasound. A NST measures your baby's heart rate as it moves around. An ultrasound is a test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of your baby on a computer screen. Biophysical profile testing is usually done in the last trimester of pregnancy.

There are five parts to a BPP:

  • The nonstress test

Plus four ultrasound tests:

  • Your baby's breathing movements

  • You baby's movements

  • How well your baby's muscles work (fetal tone)

  • The amount of amniotic fluid

How is a BPP done?

Each of the five areas of the BPP has a possible total score of two points, for a total of 10 points. A score of:

  • Eight to ten is usually considered normal.

  • Six is considered equivocal (uncertain).

  • Four or less is considered abnormal.

If the score is questionable or abnormal, or if the amniotic fluid volume is too low, additional testing may be needed.

What is a modified BPP?

Another type of BPP is sometimes done. The modified BPP combines the nonstress test and an evaluation of the amount of amniotic fluid called the amniotic fluid index (AFI). The largest  pocket of amniotic fluid is measured in each of the four quadrants of the mother's abdomen using ultrasound. All four quadrants added together give the amniotic fluid index.

Print Source: Gabbe. Obstetrics : Normal and Problem Pregnancies (2012); 6th ed; Chptr. 35
Print Source: Up To Date. Assessment of Amniotic Fluid Volume
Online Source: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology. Special Tests for Monitoring Fetal Health
Online Editor: Sims, Jane
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically-affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Trevino, Heather M., BSN, RNC
Date Last Reviewed: 9/28/2014
© 2000-2016 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.