Taste function in children: normative values and associated factors

M. van den Brink*, I. IJpma, M. Fiocco, W.J.E. Tissing, R.C. Havermans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Although less frequent than in adults, taste loss also occurs in childhood. "Taste Strips" are frequently used for diagnosing taste dysfunction; however, normative values are lacking for children. In this study, we will create normative values for the "Taste Strips" in children. Methods This cross-sectional study included 609 children aged 6-15 years. "Taste Strips" were used to determine sweet, sour, salty, and bitter taste scores by a non-forced procedure. The 10th percentile was used to distinguish normal taste function from a reduced sense of taste. Multivariable generalized linear models (GLM) were estimated to study the effect of age (group), sex, and 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) status on taste function. Results Taste function changed with age, allowing for a distinction of three age groups: (I) 6-7 years, (II) 8-9 years, and (III) 10-15 years. Normative values were created for the age groups and boys and girls separately. Additionally, GLM showed a significant effect of (1) age (group) on sweet, salty, bitter, and total taste scores; (2) sex on sweet, sour, and total taste scores; and (3) PROP status on total taste scores. Conclusions This study provided normative values for the "Taste Strips" in children, highlighting age- and sex-related differences. Impact Taste dysfunction can be harmful and impacts quality of life, a topic that became increasingly important since the COVID-19 pandemic. Although taste dysfunction is thought to be rare in childhood, the detrimental impact of such dysfunction might be large, as children's eating habits are strongly influenced by input from the chemical senses. Measuring taste function may elucidate the relationship between taste dysfunction and disease, fostering the development of more appropriate supportive strategies. However, adequate tools are lacking for children. Normative values of the "Taste Strips" are now available for children, which bolster the clinical utility of this test.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1175–1180
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number4
Early online date28 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022




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