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Chem Senses. 2007 Oct;32(8):775-82. Epub 2007 Jul 18.

Measures of human olfactory perception during pregnancy.

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Psychology Department, Carthage College, 2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha, WI 53140-1994, USA.


Although considerable anecdotal evidence suggests that pregnancy affects olfactory sensitivity, scientific evidence is limited and inconclusive. Whereas hedonic ratings are affected by pregnancy, odor identification is not. The aim of the current study was to examine odor perception in women across pregnancy and in the postpartum period. One hundred nonsmoking women who were pregnant, postpartum, or had never been pregnant were tested on the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT). Intensity ratings and scratch patterns were collected as potential indicators of sensitivity, and participants rated the odors' pleasantness. Participants also rated their own sense of smell. Mean UPSIT scores did not differ significantly across groups indicating no difference in odor identification. Trends in planned comparisons suggested that in the first trimester, odors were rated as more intense and less pleasant. In the first trimester, women scratched the odor strips significantly fewer times. Consistent with previous reports, 90% of pregnant women reported that specific odors smelled less pleasant and 60% reported that some odors smelled more pleasant. Although nearly two-thirds of pregnant women rated their olfactory sensitivity to be enhanced during pregnancy and overall pregnant women's self-rated olfactory sensitivity was higher than controls', self-ratings were not correlated with UPSIT scores nor odor intensity ratings. These results suggest that these and previous findings may reflect the fact that the effect of pregnancy on olfaction is small and inconsistent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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