Reduced ability to name smells by hyperactive children has revealed for the first time a link between an impaired smell processing and the disorder.
The one-year-study of 88 children aged six to 16 - 44 with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - was led by the University of Melbourne and Murdoch Children's Research Institute. It shows how the children with ADHD had reduced ability to identify odours.
The study was published in September's Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
The study involved using scratch and sniff tests of common smells such as orange, chocolate and pizza. Felicity Karsz of University of Melbourne's School of Behavioural Sciences and co-author of the paper said "a right nostril impairment appeared more evident among the children with ADHD".
According to co-supervisor Warrick Brewer of ORYGEN Youth Health Research Centre - department of psychiatry, similar problems of smell identification have been observed in neuro-development disorders such as schizophrenia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
"The sense of smell is increasingly becoming a useful way to detect a vulnerability to a neuropsychiatric disorder," he said, according to a release of the Melbourne University.
Brewer said the findings could lead to a smell test which would act as screening tool for children with ADHD but would not replace current treatments.
Co-supervisor, Vicki Anderson from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and the Royal Children's Hospital, says this information could supplement the well-established assessments for ADHD.
"There could be different reasons for exhibiting symptoms of hyperactivity and attention deficit and this area needs a range of strategies to confirm diagnosis and manage treatment," Anderson said.