What is non-stress test (NST)?

Alexander Kofinas M.D.

An NST is done to evaluate fetal well-being. The test is performed by means of weekly electronic fetal heart monitoring and contemporarily is usually combined with a biophysical profile. NST is falsely positive (abnormal) as often as 80% of the time, and results in a great deal of unnecessary additional testing and maternal anxiety. Sometimes this leads to unwarranted precautionary measures, which may in turn harm the fetus. When NST is conducted weekly and shows normal results, the ensuing risk of fetal death in the next 7 days is approximately 3 in 1000. This risk can be reduced further with the addition of a biophysical profile or by increasing the frequency of testing to twice a week. However, the problem with NST, and this is a serious problem, is that when a test comes back as abnormal, the fetus is at high risk to have already sustained some degree of brain damage. For the above reasons, at KOFINAS PERINATAL we rarely use electronic fetal monitoring and only for specific indications other than fetal well-being.