July 2, 2008 Researchers have developed a series of tests that for the first time accurately measure the normality of taste (gustatory function) and smell (olfactory function) in young children, according to a new study published in the July 2008 edition of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.
The study, authored by researchers in Australia, determined that most children age 5-7 can identify a majority of 16 different test odorants that can measure smell function, along with four common tastes that describe taste function.
The identifiable odorants include: floral, orange, strawberry, fish, chocolate, baby powder, paint, cut grass, sour, minty, onion, Vicks Vapo-rub, spicy, Dettol (liquid antiseptic), cheese, and gasoline (petrol). The identifiable tastes represented each section of the tongue palate: salty, bitter, sour, and sweet. As a result, a series of three tests, the Wholemouth Taste Test, the Regional Taste Test, and the Odor Identification Test, are able to offer sufficient information to diagnose the level of function of both taste and smell in young children.
Previously, the ability to measure a child's capacity for smell and taste was neglected across the world because no suitable clinical test existed (many similar tests used for adults are too lengthy for a child, and test for smells and tastes that may not be well known to the majority of children). With the development of such a test, physicians can now consider chemosensory dysfunctions in a diagnosis. The loss of taste and smell can be caused by a number of diseases and medications, along with disorders ranging from nasal and sinus disease to head trauma to middle ear surgery and infections.
The study's authors are David G. Laing, PhD; Carolina Segovia, MSc; Therese Fark; Olga N. Laing; Anthony L. Jinks, PhD; Julia Nikolaus; and Thomas Hummel, MD. They are associated with the University of New South Wales, in Kensington, Australia.
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