Improving medicine acceptance in kids: A matter of taste

July 24, 2013

Despite major advances in the pharmaceutical treatment of disease, many children reject medicines due to an aversion to bitter taste. As such, bitterness presents a key obstacle to the acceptance and effectiveness of beneficial drugs by children worldwide.

A new review, published online ahead of print in Clinical Therapeutics, addresses this critical problem by highlighting recent advances in the scientific understanding of , with special attention to the sensory world of children.

Written by an interdisciplinary team of leading taste scientists from the Monell Chemical Senses Center, Florida State University, and the University of Washington, the paper focuses on applying this knowledge to improve drug acceptance and compliance in pediatric populations.

Several highlight the importance of understanding bitter taste to the successful formulation of pediatric medications. Bitter taste is thought to have evolved as a protection against toxins, as many poisons taste bitter. Because of this, it is very difficult to disguise or mask .

Compounding this problem is the fact that children, who are especially sensitive to bitterness, cannot swallow pills or tablets, which encapsulate bitterness in adult formulations.

The state-of-the-science review summarizes current knowledge on how bitter taste works from a biological perspective. In addition, the paper provides a comprehensive overview of methods used to assess taste responses in children. The authors point out critical gaps in the existing understanding of how best to measure bitterness in children, whose cognitive and perceptual abilities differ from those of adults.

"The problems associated with pediatric drug formulations are enormous and can hinder optimal therapeutic outcomes," said lead author Julie Mennella, PhD, a developmental psychobiologist at Monell. "Both the complexity of bitter taste and the unique sensory world of children contribute to this critical issue."

Related Stories

New bitter blocker discovered

June 2, 2011

Although bitterness can sometimes be desirable – such as in the taste of coffee or chocolate – more often bitter taste causes rejection that can interfere with food selection, nutrition and therapeutic compliance. ...

Bitter taste receptors for Stevia sweeteners discovered

May 31, 2012

Stevia is regarded as a healthy alternative to sugar. Yet there are drawbacks to the Stevia products recently approved as sweeteners by the European Union. One of these is a long-lasting bitter after-taste. Scientists at ...

Recommended for you

Flow means 'go' for proper lymph system development

July 27, 2015

The lymphatic system provides a slow flow of fluid from our organs and tissues into the bloodstream. It returns fluid and proteins that leak from blood vessels, provides passage for immune and inflammatory cells from the ...

Fluorescent material reveals how cells grow

July 21, 2015

Fibre from a semiconducting polymer, developed for solar cells, is an excellent support material for the growth of new human tissue. Researchers at Linköping University have shown that the fibre glows, which makes it possible ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.