Weill Cornell and Antepartum Testing 

Antepartum testing is the evaluation of a fetus to determine its well-being. Usually, this testing occurs around the 32nd week of the pregnancy—although in some cases it can happen sooner in the pregnancy. Weill Cornell offers fetal testing in New York. These tests use electronic fetal monitoring or ultrasound to determine the well-being of the unborn child by assessing the fetal heart rate and other characteristics of the fetus and the mother.

The purpose of antepartum testing is to determine if there are any problems with the fetus that may require more tests and possibly an intervention. The testing will evaluate, among other things, the placenta and how well it delivers blood and oxygen to the fetus.

Antepartum testing is often ordered by a physician if the mother has certain risks which could include:

  • Problems with previous pregnancies. These issues could include an unexplained stillbirth.
  • Problems during a pregnancy that could include hypertension (preeclampsia), gestational diabetes, premature rupture of the membranes, too little or too much amniotic fluid, vaginal bleeding, placental abnormalities, or partial abruption.
  • A chronic illness in the mother. This could include an autoimmune disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or other concerns.
  • Testing could be required if a doctor in concerned about fetal complications that could cause birth defects, if the pregnancy has twins or other multiple births if there is intrauterine growth restrictions or other problems.
  • Antepartum testing can also be requested by a doctor in a low-risk pregnancy to investigate lessened activity in the fetus, post-term pregnancy (the pregnancy is ongoing past the due date), and other issues that could cause concern that the placenta can no longer meet the fetus’s needs. In that case, the test would be evaluating amniotic fluid status, fetal heart rate, and patterns of fetal movement.


Antepartum testing generally involves Biophysical Profile (BPP), which is a test that measures the health of the fetus during the pregnancy. This test may be performed using a non-stress test with electronic fetal heart monitoring and a fetal ultrasound. The BPP will measure the heart rate, muscle tone, movement, breathing and amount of amniotic fluid. This test is conducted primarily during the final trimester of the pregnancy.

The Non-Stress Test (NST) is a simple and non-invasive test that measures the baby’s heart rate compared to the movements of the baby. No stress is placed on the fetus during the NST. A belt is placed on the mother’s abdomen—the belt then measures the fetal heart rate and another belt is used to measure contractions. Generally, the heart rate and the reactivity of the heart rate to movement is measured for 30 minutes.

Doppler Ultrasound is another noninvasive method used to evaluate the fetus’s blood flow so that it can be assessed and measured. This test is completed using an ultrasound. Weill Cornell provides fetal testing in New York.

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