Taste and smell in familial dysautonomia

Natan Gadoth*, Eliyahu Mass, Carlos R. Gordon, Jacob E. Steiner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Familial dysautonomia (FD) is one of the classic characterized by taste and smell abnormalities. However, these typical features and based on data obtained from two separate crude studies published in 1964. In the present study psychophysical-cognitive and reflex-like facial-behavioral responses to taste and smell, in nine patients with FD and 15 healthy controls, were recorded. Five taste stimulants were presented to both study groups, while a selection of common household odors was used for FD patients only. The patients with FD showed a markedly higher incidence of recognition failures for salty, bitter, sweet, and water stimuli than the controls, but rate of recognition of sour stimuli was almost identical in the two groups. Estimates by the subjects on a hedonic scale of 0 to 10 and facial display in FD indicated a relatively normal sensitivity to sour stimuli and to a lesser extent to bitter stimuli. Water, sweet, and salty stimuli evoked non-discriminatory responses. These findings indicate specific dysgeusia rather than general ageusia. Smell was found to be normal. In children with taste and smell impairment, a systematic evaluative approach may help in planning palatable diets for adequate and comfortable nutrition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-397
Number of pages5
JournalDevelopmental Medicine and Child Neurology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997


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