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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 womb. A nonstress test monitors the heartbeat of the fetus.

These tests are done late in pregnancy as the fetus matures. The following information is typically gathered:

  • The amount of amniotic fluid (ultrasound)
  • Fetal heart rate (nonstress test)
  • Fetal breathing (ultrasound)
  • Fetal body movement (ultrasound)
  • Fetal muscle tone (ultrasound)

Each factor assessed in the biophysical profile is assigned a numerical score based on the findings. A total numerical score is also 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. Examples of conditions that could put you and your baby at risk include:

Your doctor may suggest other tests to gather important information about the health of your fetus. A problematic test result often suggests that you need special care. It does not necessarily mean that your fetus is in trouble. Your doctor will be able to answer questions and discuss any concerns you have about this form of monitoring.


The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American Academy of Family Physicians


Baby Center

Women's Health Matters

Biophysical Profile. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: Updated August 2006. Accessed December 11, 2012.

Complicated Pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated November 30, 2012. Accessed December 11, 2012.

Prenatal Care and Tests. United States Department of Health and Human Services Women's Health website. Available at: Updated September 27, 2012. Accessed December 11, 2012.

Screening and Monitoring During Pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated November 28, 2012. Accessed December 11, 2012.

Last reviewed December 2012 by Brian Randall, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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