A Cross-Cultural Adaptation of the Sniffin’ Sticks Olfactory Identification Test for US children

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Abstract

Disorders associated with smell loss are common in adolescents. However, current odor identification tests focus on children from age 6 and older and no cross-cultural test has to date been validated and fully implemented. Here, we aimed to investigate how 3-to-11-year-old US children performed to an adapted and shortened (11 odors instead of 14) version of a European odor identification test—the Sniffin’ Kids (Schriever VA, Mori E, Petters W, Boerner C, Smitka M, Hummel T. 2014. The “Sniffin’Kids” test: a 14-item odor identification test for children. Plos One. 9:e101086.). Results confirmed that cued odor identification performance increases with age and revealed little to no differences between girls and boys. Scores below 3 and below 6 may raise hyposmia concerns in US children aged 3–7 years and 8–10 years, respectively. Even though the completion rate of the task reached the 88%, suggesting that children below age 5 were able to finish the test, their performance was relatively poor. In comparing the overall identification performance of US children with that of German children, for whom the test was specifically developed, significant differences emerged, with higher scores obtained by the German sample. Analysis of errors indicated that a lack of semantic knowledge for the olfactory-presented objects may be at the root of poor identification skills in US children and therefore constitutes a problem in the development of an odor identification test for younger children valid across cultures.

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