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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2013 Jan;120(1):121-30. doi: 10.1007/s00702-012-0855-2. Epub 2012 Jul 19.

A systematic review on olfaction in child and adolescent psychiatric disorders.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Regensburg, Universitätsstrasse 84, 93053, Regensburg, Germany.


There is substantial evidence that olfactory function may serve as biomarker in adult neuropsychiatric disorders, e.g. overall diminished olfaction in Parkinson's disease as parameter for early pre-motor and differential diagnosis. Here, we present data from a systematic literature review in olfactory function in child and adolescent psychiatric disorders and report two unpublished data sets of autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The overall number of olfaction studies is low-even after taking into account adult samples. In addition, heterogeneity of findings is high due to methodological limitations such as the use of different olfactory tests and odours targeting the olfactory and/or the trigeminal system and neglecting possible confounders, e.g., intelligence or oto-rhino-laryngological affections. Despite these limitations, there is some indication for specific alterations of olfactory function especially in disorders with dopaminergic pathology (e.g. attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, schizophrenia, 22q11 deletion syndrome). Dopamine is a relevant modulator of early processes in the olfactory bulb. Our systematic review provides the basis for future confirmatory studies investigating olfaction as putative biomarker in child and adolescent psychiatric disorders. We further propose studies of thorough and elaborate methodological standards in combination with imaging techniques and the investigation of the influence of genetic variation on olfactory function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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