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posted by janrinok on Thursday March 28, @12:41PM   Printer-friendly

Researchers explain the dissimilar smells of babies and teenagers:

A team of aroma chemists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, working with psychologist colleagues from the Technical University of Dresden, has uncovered the reasons for the dissimilar smells between babies and teenagers. The study is published in the journal Communications Chemistry.

Prior research and anecdotal evidence have shown that babies have a pleasant smell, often described as sweet. Teenagers, on the other hand, especially males, have often been described as smelling less pleasant. In this new effort, the research team sought to find out what causes the difference.

[...] The researchers found that most of the chemicals responsible for body odor were similar between the two groups of volunteers. But there were a few that made the difference. Teenage sweat, for example, had high levels of many kinds of carboxylic acids, which the assessors described as "earthy, musty or cheesy."

They also found two steroids in the teen sweat not present in the baby sweat, one of which resulted in "musk or urine-like" emanations—the other, the assessors suggested, smelled more like "musk and sandalwood." Without such chemicals, the sweat of babies smelled much sweeter.

The researchers suggest that study of the chemical compounds in teen sweat could prove fruitful for makers of odor-control products. They also suggest that more work could [be] done to better understand the impact of such odors on parents.

Journal Reference:
Diana Owsienko et al, Body odor samples from infants and post-pubertal children differ in their volatile profiles, Communications Chemistry (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s42004-024-01131-4


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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @12:57PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @12:57PM (#1350672)

    Full text at https://www.nature.com/articles/s42004-024-01131-4 [nature.com] including 59 references with quite a few from the 1970-2000 period.

    Expecting the worst (a pharmaceutical company?), it was nice to see the funding:

    Acknowledgements
    We would like to thank the parents and their children for participating in this study; Miriam Kron for the recruitment of participants for the second sampling pool; Jessica Bayat for the preparation of the triangle tests. This research was supported by the German Research Foundation (grant numbers BU 1351/24-1 and CR 479/11-1) and by the European Union (project number 101046369).

    Funding
    Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @01:23PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @01:23PM (#1350673)

    Different smells are explained by different molecules? Impressive!
    I can’t wait for the next study that will explain that teenagers don’t actually spread those molecules on their bodies to annoy their friends, but that the molecules are synthesized by a biological process!

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday March 28, @03:42PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday March 28, @03:42PM (#1350705)

      Also: are the molecules themselves actually annoying, or is it a learned response: these molecules are associated with annoying experiences, therefore...

      --
      🌻🌻 [google.com]
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Snotnose on Thursday March 28, @01:45PM (3 children)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Thursday March 28, @01:45PM (#1350677)

    Babies smell like a combination of poop, baby wipes, and talcum powder.

    Teenagers smell like whatever is hot on TicTok this week plus a bit of weed, beer, and desperation.

    --
    My ducks are not in a row. I don't know where some of them are, and I'm pretty sure one of them is a turkey.
    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Thursday March 28, @04:54PM (2 children)

      by VLM (445) on Thursday March 28, @04:54PM (#1350720)

      Teenagers smell like

      Wow, you must be young, back when your grandpappy was a youngin, Nirvana sang "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and we liked it. The song, not the smell. "Here we are now, entertain us" etc etc

      You may not have heard of Nirvana because the lead singer went out with a bang. (that's a bad joke) If he was still alive then Nirvana would probably still be around just like Bon Jovi. I remember when Bon Jovi hit the charts in the 80s and our music teacher explained "that's pop music for you, the way one hit wonders sell now-a-days on these newfangled cassette singles, nobody will ever remember Bon Jovi three months from now" Yeah well...

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by Snotnose on Thursday March 28, @06:52PM

        by Snotnose (1623) on Thursday March 28, @06:52PM (#1350741)

        I was in my 30s when Nirvana came out. I didn't really like their shotgun approach to songwriting.

        It's bad joke ping pong!

        --
        My ducks are not in a row. I don't know where some of them are, and I'm pretty sure one of them is a turkey.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Common Joe on Friday March 29, @05:07PM

        There is a woman who goes deep diving into music and I sometimes find her analysis interesting. The video The Charismatic Voice, Smells Like Teen Spirit [youtube.com] is not her best work, but I found it interesting when I saw it a few months ago. It's 23 minutes long.

        I'm glad I watched the first 5 minutes of it again just now so I could explain a little bit about her. In the first two minutes, she seems a little bit vapid. I assure you she is not. She is highly trained, has a good ear, and can explain a lot about what is going on from a singing perspective. In minutes 2 though 5, you'll figure out if you like her or not.

        A bit of warning: it took me an entire video get to used to her style of replaying parts of the same song over and over to analyze and comment on it.

        But, since you like Teen Spirit and we're all geeky, you might like this gal.

        I really like the song Concrete Cages [youtube.com] by Scardust (with a Hurdy Gurdy instrument in the foreground!) and The Charismatic Voice has an interesting analysis [youtube.com] of it. If you're unfamiliar with the song, I suggest you watch it first.

  • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Thursday March 28, @01:53PM

    by RamiK (1813) on Thursday March 28, @01:53PM (#1350679)
    --
    compiling...
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Opportunist on Thursday March 28, @03:29PM

    by Opportunist (5545) on Thursday March 28, @03:29PM (#1350702)

    I could have told you without a grant that the main difference in smell is that most teens don't shit themselves.

  • (Score: 2) by nostyle on Thursday March 28, @03:54PM

    by nostyle (11497) on Thursday March 28, @03:54PM (#1350707) Journal

    So far all the comments are failing to note the major rite of passage we all hit in our early teens where deodorant becomes a must-have.

    My youngest grand-daughter just reached this transition, and one can hardly stand to sit in the car with her on the way home from the soccer game.

    --
    "Shower the people you love with love." -James Taylor

  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Thursday March 28, @04:47PM

    by VLM (445) on Thursday March 28, @04:47PM (#1350719)

    I would imagine their pool was very small, and their diet would intuitively have an enormous impact on smell. Acne seems to mostly be a result of dairy consumption combined with mild dehydration, and the effect of garlic consumption on B.O. is legendary, so would not be surprised if smell, at least as relates to this article, was primarily driven by diet.

    Anecdotally I think you can smell people who eat a lot of seed oils (mostly from hyperprocessed foods). They have a distinct smell to them. Heavy grain eaters have a smell also, not like baked bread but like the smell of the air over a bag of flour.

  • (Score: 2) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Thursday March 28, @05:38PM (1 child)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Thursday March 28, @05:38PM (#1350728)

    babies have a pleasant smell, often described as sweet.

    What the hell babies are those?

    The ones I helped my wife rear only smelled of anything when their diapers needed changing and it wasn't neither sweet nor pleasant.

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @09:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @09:40PM (#1350762)

      I miss that new baby smell. Just one of those things you can never get back.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mendax on Friday March 29, @05:22AM

    by mendax (2840) on Friday March 29, @05:22AM (#1350810)

    There is a very simple reason why they smell different: puberty! And someone needed to research and write an academic article to demonstrate the differences? 'Nuf said!

    --
    It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
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