Biophysical Profile

1 What is a Biophysical Profile?

A fetal biophysical profile is a prenatal test that is used to check on a baby's well-being. This test combines fetal heart rate monitoring (nonstress test) and fetal ultrasound.

During a biophysical profile, a baby's heart rate, breathing, muscle tone and amniotic fluid levels are evaluated in order to give a score.

Typically these procedures are for women who have a greater risk of pregnancy loss. It is also done after week 32 of pregnancy, but can be done when your pregnancy is far enough along for delivery to be considered this is usually after week 24.

A low score on a biophysical profile indicates that you and your baby require further monitoring or special care. In some situations, early or immediate delivery may be recommended.

A biophysical profile is a nonevasive test that does not pose any physical risks to your baby. However, it is not always vivid that a biophysical profile can help promote a baby's health.

2 Reasons for Procedure

A biophysical profile is a system used to monitor and evaluate a baby's health. The reasons for this particular procedure are to prevent pregnancy loss and detect fetal hypoxia.

Early enough so that the baby be delivered before sustaining any permanent damage. This test is mostly done in cases where there is n increased the risk of pregnancy loss.

The necessity and timing of your biophysical profile will be determined by your medical practitioner based on whether your baby could survive if delivered early, the severity of your condition and risk of pregnancy loss.

An initial recommendation of a modified biophysical profile (simplified version) includes a nonstress test and an assessment of amniotic fluid through ultrasound.

Your health care provider will further use the results to determine whether you need a fill biophysical profile, which also measures a baby's breathing movements and muscle tone.

A biophysical profile may be recommended if you have:

  • Multiple pregnancies with certain complications.
  • An underlying medical condition such as diabetes or heart condition.
  • A pregnancy that has extended two weeks past your due date (post-term pregnancy).
  • A history of pregnancy loss or previous pregnancy complication.
  • A baby who has reduced fetal movements or possible fetal growth problems.

Preterm premature rupture of the membranes, when the fluid-filled membrane that surrounds and cushions the baby during the period of pregnancy (amniotic sac) leaks or breaks before week 37 of pregnancy.

Too much amniotic fluid or polyhydramnios or low amniotic fluid volume also known as oligohydramnios. Rh (rhesus) sensitization is a potentially serious condition that can occur when your blood group is Rh negative and your baby's blood group is Rh positive. Worrisome results and other tests.

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3 Potential Risks

Because a biophysical profile is a noninvasive test, it doses not pose any physical risk to your child. While it can offer assurance about a baby's health, it can also cause a great deal of anxiety.

In addition, a biophysical profile might not spot a current problem or might suggest that a problem is present when there is absolutely nothing.

It is also to keep in mind that while biophysical profiling is usually recommended for women who have increased the risk of pregnancy loss, it is not always clear if it promotes the baby's health.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

A biophysical profile does not have any special preparation. Rarely, the ultrasound might need to be done with a full bladder.

5 What to Expect

Here’s what you can expect before, during, and after your biophysical profile test:

A biophysical profile can be performed in your health care provider's office or in a hospital. This test might take anywhere from five minutes up to an hour to complete.

During the test. During the nonstress test, you will be asked to lie on an exam table. You'll likely have your blood pressure taken before the test and at regular intervals during the test.

Your health care provider or a member of your health care team will then place a belt across your abdomen. The belt contains a sensor that measures the fetal heart rate.

Typically, the test lasts 20 minutes. However, if your baby is asleep, you might need to wait until he or she awakens to ensure accurate results.

In some cases, your health care provider might try to awaken the baby by using sound from a special device. During the ultrasound exam, you'll also lie on an exam table.

Your health care provider or an ultrasound technician will apply a small amount of gel to your abdomen. Then he or she will roll a small device called a transducer over your skin.

The transducer will emit pulses of sound waves that will be translated into a pattern of light and dark areas — creating an image of your baby on a monitor.

Your health care provider or the ultrasound technician will then evaluate your baby's breathing movements, body movements, muscle tone and amniotic fluid level.

The ultrasound might last five to 30 minutes or so, depending on whether your baby is awake, or there's a wait time until your baby awakens.

After the test When the biophysical profile is complete, your health care provider will likely discuss the results with you immediately.

6 Procedure Results

The results of a biophysical profile test will be given by your doctor. Each area that has been evaluated during a biophysical profile is given a score or 0 or 2 points, this depends on whether precise criteria were met.

A score can be given as soon as the biophysical activity is observed. For instance: For heart rate. Results of this part of the test are called reactive or nonreactive.

If your baby's heart speeds up twice or more within a period of 20 minutes the results are considered reactive and 2 points will be given. Nonreactive (0) are given if not enough accelerations occur with a 40 minute period.

Fetal breathing. If your baby shows a minimum of-of rhythmic breathing or 30 seconds or more within 30 minutes, 2 points will be given, if not, 0 will be given.

Fetal movement. Two points will be given if your baby moves their limbs or body  three times or more within 30 minutes. If not, a score of 0 is given.

Fetal muscle tone If your baby moves their limb from a bent position to an extended one and quick back to the bent, two points will be given. If not, a score of 0 is given.

Amniotic fluid. The ultrasound technician will search for the largest visible pocket of amniotic fluid.In order to score 2 points, the pocket must be a certain size, it does not meet the criteria, a score of 0 is given.

The individual scores are further summed up to determine a total score. Typically, a score of 8 to 10 is reassuring. If a score of 6 is found, your healthcare provider will likely repeat the test within a period of 24 hours.

Another score of 6 or lower will lead you health care provider to recommend further testing or an early or immediate delivery.

Additional, if your health care provider finds that you have a low amount of amniotic fluid you will have to have further testing and an early delivery is possible.

Keep in mind that some factors can affect the results of a biophysical profile, this includes the use of corticosteroids to speed up your baby's lung maturity and the presence of an infection.

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