A biophysical profile is a prenatal test used to check on a baby's well-being. The test combines fetal heart rate monitoring (nonstress test) and fetal ultrasound — an imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of a baby in the uterus. During a biophysical profile, a baby's heart rate, breathing, movements, muscle tone and amniotic fluid level are evaluated and given a score.

Typically, a biophysical profile is recommended for women at risk of pregnancy loss. A biophysical profile is typically done after week 32 of pregnancy. However, the test can be done when your pregnancy is far enough along for delivery to be considered — usually after weeks 24 to 26 of pregnancy. A low score on a biophysical profile might indicate that you and your baby need further monitoring or special care. In some cases, early or immediate delivery might be recommended.

A biophysical profile is a noninvasive test that doesn't pose any physical risks to you or your baby. However, it's not always clear that a biophysical profile can help promote a baby's health. Find out what a biophysical profile involves and whether this prenatal test might benefit you or your baby.

Feb. 22, 2012