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Does a lack of smell mean your child has COVID-19? A pediatrician weighs in.

Smell it!

It smells like strawberry Laffy Taffy.

This strategy works like a charm to get a strawberry flavored popsicle stick into a little one’s mouth, but in today’s world of COVID-19, they might have a new use as well.

New data from adults suggest that the anosmia, or the loss of the sense of smell, might be a sign more specific for COVID-19. This could be helpful in the middle of cold and allergy season when everyone seems to have cough and congestion. According to researchers, it's possible that between 30 and 60 percent of COVID-19 patients have a significant loss of smell. This seems to occur both before sypmtoms arise and along with other symptoms. 

While it might be difficult to assess with young children, parents and providers could be able to use loss of smell as an indication that COVID-19 might be more likely.

One important thing to keep in mind is that a lack of smell is likely to be significant if the child does not have nasal congestion, which would otherwise explain the symptom. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some patients also report digestive issues like diarrhea.

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Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.

Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club  and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Smith is an experienced keynote speaker for a variety of topics including pediatric/parenting topics, healthcare social media and physician leadership. If you are interested in having Dr. Smith present to your conference or meeting, please contact him at

He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click here to make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.

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