The scent of teenagers has become synonymous with sweat and body odor, but according to a new study, this may not be their fault. The research, carried out by a team of scientists from Aarhus University in Denmark, found that young people have a far less keen sense of smell than older individuals, which may explain why they are less sensitive to their own odors.

The study revealed that our ability to detect certain scents changes as we age, and while everyone seems to be able to detect strong scents, such as gasoline, coffee, and fish, older adults were more able to detect finer scents, such as herbs and spices, The Daily Mail reported. What’s more, those aged between 12 and 18 were less likely than any other age bracket to correctly identify sweat and cigarette smoke.

Read: Most European-Americans Can’t Detect This Distinct Odor

"Our findings in adolescents are in line with the hypothesis that children may lack odour-specific knowledge which accumulates throughout life,” explained lead study author Alexander Fjaelstad, The Daily Mail reported. “Though odors are potent triggers of autobiographical memories from as far back as the first decade of life — and in a way closely linked to memory — the ability to name odours is an acquired skill that takes years to master.”

For the study, which is now published online in the Journal Chemical Senses, the team tested the sense of smell of 411 adolescent participants and 320 adult participants. Adults were better than those under 18 at detecting sweat, smoke and soap, but the youth had the advantage in sniffing out more particular scents such as soda, ketchup, and chocolate bars.

And while the jury's still out on whether these differences in scent account for smellier teenagers, Fjaelstad said the findings suggest that it may take age and maturity to detect certain odors.

Some people can blame their age for their smell deficiency, but others can blame their genes. A new study has found that the inability to detect the strong scent of asparagus in urine, also known as asparagus anosmia, is shared by a large portion of individuals with a European background. However, the evolutionary significance of these traits is still not clear, and researchers do not understand why the gene has managed to survive and prevail for so long.

Source: Fjaelstad A, Sundbøll J, Niklassen A, Ovesen T. Odor Familiarity and Identification Abilities in Adolescents. Chemical Sense s. 2017

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