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What Is A Biophysical Profile

by Kristin Beck
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What Is A Biophysical Profile

What Is A Biophysical Profile

“The term “”biophysical profile”” may be somewhat unfamiliar to most women who are not in the medical profession. The reason for this is that it is used by many doctors and nurses as an indicator of fetal health during labor and delivery. In fact, if you have ever been admitted into a hospital, you may have had one performed on you at some point. This type of testing is also called a biophysical assessment.
For those women who work in the medical field, they will recognize that a biophysical profile is commonly referred to as simply a “”prenatal screen.”” And like any screening test there is always a potential for false positives. False negatives are less likely because the procedure has already shown itself to be effective in detecting abnormalities. For example, if a woman has abnormal results from her glucose tolerance test she would probably receive more attention than if she were normal on the test but still found to have gestational diabetes later in pregnancy.
So what does a biophysical profile involve? First off, let’s discuss the types of tests involved. There are two basic categories of tests that go into the creation of your biophysical profile. One category consists of blood tests which measure things such as sugar, electrolytes, cholesterol, proteins, enzymes, etc. These tests help determine how healthy your baby is currently and how quickly he/she can tolerate various levels of stress. They also indicate whether or not there is something wrong medically with the fetus.
Another category of tests includes measurements of the uterus, amniotic fluid, heart rate, lung function, body movements, and brain activity. All of these tests provide information about the wellbeing of the fetus and its placenta. Your doctor will use all of the data together to form his final decision.
Now that we know what goes into creating the test, let’s talk about why it was created in the first place. As mentioned earlier, it was developed to look for physical markers of possible problems for the fetus. But what exactly is meant by each marker?
One of the main goals of the test is to detect fetal distress. Fetal distress occurs when oxygen levels in the umbilical cord decrease causing symptoms such as tachysystole (rapid heartbeat), decreased movement, and possibly even loss of consciousness. When this happens, the mother needs immediate treatment to prevent death. If the mother doesn’t treat the problem immediately, then the baby could suffer permanent damage and die within minutes. Therefore, it is extremely important for both mom and baby to get treated immediately.
Other markers include low birth weight, slow growth rates, poor feeding patterns, excessive bleeding, high blood pressure, and signs of infection. Each of these indicators should prompt further testing to ensure the baby is OK.
Finally, let’s talk about how the tests are performed. Most hospitals perform them using either Doppler sonography or transvaginal ultrasound. Both techniques involve inserting a probe into the vagina and scanning around the abdomen looking for certain characteristics.
With Doppler sonography, a small handheld device is placed over the head of the patient while another scans the area around the belly to find blood flow. With transvaginal ultrasounds, a wand is inserted directly into the vagina so that it looks down inside the womb. Transvaginal ultrasounds allow for better internal visualization of the unborn child.
Once the scan is complete, the resulting report is sent to the doctor. Depending upon the findings it will dictate what additional testing might need to take place. Let’s say the result shows that the baby appears to be fine. Then the doctor might order a standard non-stress test to see if the baby can handle a day of active labor. Or maybe the baby’s lungs aren’t able to adequately support enough air flow and a pulmonary arterial saturation test is ordered. Whatever testing is needed, the purpose is to keep watch over the baby until he/she arrives safely at the outside world.
If you’re interested in learning more about the process of a biophysical profile please visit http://www.healthcentral.com where you’ll discover hundreds of articles about different topics related to pregnancy. You’ll also learn how to prepare yourself physically and emotionally for childbirth, how to cope with pain during labor and delivery, and much more!”

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