Olfactory function is a well-known early biomarker for neurodegeneration and neural functioning in the adult population, being supported by a number of brain structures that could be dysfunctioning in neurodegenerative processes. Evidence has suggested that atypical sensory and, particularly, olfactory processing is present in several neurodevelopmental conditions, including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). In this paper, we present data obtained by a systematic literature review, conducted according to PRISMA guidelines, regarding the possible association between olfaction and ASDs, and analyze them critically in order to evaluate the occurrence of olfactory impairment in ASDs, as well as the possible usefulness of olfactory evaluation in such conditions. The results obtained in this analysis suggested a possible involvement of olfactory impairment in ASDs, underlining the importance of olfactory evaluation in the clinical assessment of ASDs. This assessment could be potentially included as a complementary evaluation in the diagnostic protocol of the condition. Methods for study selection and inclusion criteria were specified in advance and documented in PROSPERO protocol #CRD42014013939.
Keywords: ASD; Autism; Autism spectrum disorders; Neurodevelopmental disorders; Olfaction; Smell.