Olfactory testing in children using objective tools: comparison of Sniffin’ Sticks and University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT)
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BACKGROUND: Detection of olfactory dysfunction is important for fire and food safety. Clinical tests of olfaction have been developed for adults but their use in children has been limited because they were felt to be unreliable in children under six years of age. We therefore administered two olfactory tests to children and compared results across tests. METHODS: Two olfactory tests (Sniffin' Sticks and University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT)) were administered to 78 healthy children ages 3 to 12 years. Children were randomized to one of two groups: Group 1 performed the UPSIT first and Sniffin' Sticks second, and Group 2 performed Sniffin' Sticks first and UPSIT second. RESULTS: All children were able to complete both olfactory tests. Performance on both tests was similar for children 5 and 6 years of age. There was an age-dependent increase in score on both tests (p < .01). Children performed better on the Sniffin' Sticks than the UPSIT (65.3% versus 59.7%, p < .01). There was no difference in performance due to order of test presentation. CONCLUSIONS: The Sniffin' Sticks and UPSIT olfactory tests can both be completed by children as young as 5 years of age. Performance on both tests increased with increasing age. Better performance on the Sniffin' Sticks than the UPSIT may be due to a decreased number of test items, better ability to maintain attention, or decreased olfactory fatigue. The ability to reuse Sniffin' Sticks on multiple children may make it more practical for clinical use.
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