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Understanding BPD In Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant, you’re likely navigating new terms and concepts concerning yourself and your baby. There’s plenty to sort through, and if you want a deeper understanding of BPD in pregnancy, you’re in the right place.

What Does BPD Mean?

BPD stands for biparietal diameter and measures the baby’s head during ultrasound appointments. This measurement specifically tracks the distance between the two parietal bones, which join to form the sides and top of the skull.

What BPD Means In Pregnancy

BPD is taken at ultrasound appointments between weeks 12 and 26 of pregnancy and provides crucial information to you and your healthcare provider about your baby, including:

  • The presence of complications related to chromosomal abnormalities such as down syndrome
  • Indicators of spina bifida or tethered spinal cord syndrome
  • Pinpointing the due date
  • Fetal weight
  • Macrosomia (when a baby is bigger than what is normal for their gestational age, possibly causing delivery complications)
  • Hydrocephalus (fluid buildup in the brain)

What Are Normal BPD Ranges?

An essential component of understanding BPD in pregnancy is knowing what’s considered “normal” at each stage. When understanding BPD in pregnancy, it’s crucial to consider that every woman’s genetic factors and health histories affect average measurements. That said, normal BPD measurements vary depending on how far along the mother is in her pregnancy, and some examples of typical milestones are highlighted in this BPD chart:

BPD at 14 Weeks: 29.4 mm
BPD at 20 Weeks: 49.4 mm
BPD at 30 Weeks: 78.4 mm
BPD at 37 Weeks: 91.5 mm
BPD at 40 Weeks: 95.6 mm

My BPD Measurements Aren’t Normal. What Now?

On top of everything you’re thinking about when you’re expecting, wondering what high or low BPD means in pregnancy can be stressful. Before exploring the meanings of high or low BPD measurements, it’s crucial to understand determining factors.

  1. Gestational Age: It makes sense that a skull measurement would change weekly as your baby rapidly develops. As such, an inaccurate understanding of gestational age could lead to a BPD measurement that appears out of the normal range.
  2. Fetal Position: Depending on how the baby is positioned in the uterus, BPD measurements might skew high. If your BPD measurements come back high, confirm with your ultrasound technician that your baby is not in an occiput anterior position which is known to yield higher measurements.
  3. Amniotic Fluid Levels: Lower and higher amniotic fluid levels can affect BPD measurements, yielding either too high or too low results. Appropriate amniotic fluid is crucial for a healthy pregnancy, and any abnormal levels should be discussed with your doctor.

What To Expect With Abnormal BPD Measurements

While an underlying circumstance could eliminate concern, an abnormal BPD measurement could indicate matters that need attention. Consult with a trusted medical professional, knowing they’ll likely order tests, monitor development, and take extra precautions. Some things your doctor may discuss with you include the following examples.

More Intensive Monitoring

You may be asked to come back for more frequent ultrasounds to be extra vigilant about your and your baby’s health and safety.

Abnormal Development

Your doctor will look for abnormal fetal development that various factors, including genetic or structural issues,
could cause.

Monitoring For Premature Birth Or Delivery Complication Risk Factors

An abnormal BDP measurement could indicate a higher risk of premature birth or delivery complications. As scary as it might be, creating a contingency plan with your doctor increases that both mom and baby are safe.

The Best Way To Protect Your Baby’s Health

The best way to protect your baby’s health while you’re pregnant is by taking care of yourself. Eating right, staying active, and reducing your stress as much as possible (pre-natal stress reduction can also help your baby
beyond the womb).

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Understanding BPD in pregnancy gives a glimpse into the miraculous and rapid developments your baby goes through before they’re even born. As a parent, you’ll have the joy of watching the development continue for their entire lives. Learn more about Cell Save cord blood banking and how we make it easy to incorporate our premium services into your birthing experience.

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