To validate the level of olfactory performance of children, we tested 825 volunteers, aged 4-17 years, with an abbreviated form of our pediatric odorant identification task. The test consisted of sniffing and identifying five odorants (baby powder, bubble gum, candy cane, licorice and peach). Mean olfactory scores increased as a function of age, reaching a plateau of about 94-95% correct at 8 years of age. In general, girls out-performed boys. Physicians require a test instrument such as the one we have devised to allow them to diagnose olfactory dysfunction in children. The present task is particularly applicable in screening large numbers of children in clinics or schools because it can be administered easily and rapidly. Adult subjects with olfactory dysfunction also performed poorly on this odorant identification task designed for children. Therefore, we expect that our odorant identification task will also detect children with severe olfactory dysfunction.
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