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Comparative Study
, 29 (5), 391-402

A Longitudinal Descriptive Study of Self-Reported Abnormal Smell and Taste Perception in Pregnant Women

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Comparative Study

A Longitudinal Descriptive Study of Self-Reported Abnormal Smell and Taste Perception in Pregnant Women

Steven Nordin et al. Chem Senses.

Abstract

Self-reported abnormal sensitivity, qualitative distortions and phantom sensations with respect to smell and taste was assessed with a longitudinal design, based on questions referring to gestational weeks 13-16 and 31-34 of pregnancy in comparison with 9-12 weeks post partum and with non-pregnant women with corresponding time durations and intervals. The results show that abnormal smell and/or taste perception was reported by 76% of the pregnant women, typically believed to be caused by their pregnancy. Increased smell sensitivity was found to be very common at the early stage of pregnancy (67% of all pregnant respondents) and occasionally accompanied by qualitative smell distortions (17%) and phantom smells (14%). The smell abnormalities were less common at the late pregnancy stage and almost absent post partum. Abnormal taste sensitivity was fairly commonly reported (26%), often described as increased bitter sensitivity and decreased salt sensitivity. These results, suggesting that abnormal smell and/or taste perception is experienced by a large majority of pregnant women, imply that further research is needed to understand to what extent these chemosensory changes may underlie food aversions and craving with implications for food intake during pregnancy.

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