While it has been reported that most, if not all, very young children are able to detect the odor of 5 alpha-androst-16-en-3-one (androstenone), approximately 40-50% of human adults cannot detect its odor. The present study focused on changes in sensitivity to androstenone during adolescence, which may account for this discrepancy. Sensitivity to androstenone was determined in 247 subjects aged 6 to 50. There was a significant increase in the number of males anosmic to androstenone between 9-14 and 15-20 years of age, and a significant increase in threshold with age among males able to detect the odor. We infer that a smaller percentage of females than males becomes anosmic to the odor of androstenone during development, and those able to detect it apparently show a decrease in threshold with age. No age-related changes were observed in tests of pyridine or d,l-beta-phenylethylmethylethylcarbinol (PEMEC).
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