What Are the Common Causes of Body Odor in Children?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2019
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A strong and unpleasant body odor in children could indicate a serious medical condition, or it could be related to diet or hygiene practices. Most children do not begin to develop body odor until puberty, at the age of about eight or nine years old. When younger children have body odor, it could indicate a metabolic dysfunction, early-onset puberty, hyperhydrosis, or phenylketonuria. Some medical professionals believe that the hormones and additives in non-organic milk can cause this type of odor. If no other cause can be found, then the child's diet may be to blame, and parents may want to experiment by eliminating certain foods.

Some medical professionals believe dietary problems can cause body odor in children in the absence of any health problems. A number of parents have reported successfully eliminating body odor by giving their children organic milk, almond milk, or rice milk instead of non-organic cow's milk. Food such as corn, meat, wheat, eggs, and cheese may also contribute to odor. Removing one or more of these foods from the diet may help eliminate the problem.

Metabolic dysfunction is a serious condition that can lead to body odor in children. Disorders of this nature generally need swift and thorough medical treatment. Children who are suffering a metabolic dysfunction will also usually have other, severe symptoms, such as seizures.


Hyperhydrosis causes excessive perspiration, which can lead to strong body odors. This condition is usually not considered serious, and treatment typically involves giving the child extra baths and encouraging the use of a gentle underarm deodorant. Apple cider vinegar, baking soda, or an infusion of sage are generally considered safe and effective deodorants for young children. Some medical professionals recommend avoiding the use of deodorants intended for adults, since these products can be toxic to very young children.

Phenylketonuria is another medical condition that can cause body odor in young children and infants. Children with this disorder lack the ability to assimilate the amino acid known as phenylalanine. The body odor associated with this condition is usually described as mustier than the smell one associates with adult sweat.

One of the most common causes of this problem may be early-onset puberty, which is development that occurs before the child is eight or nine years of age. Early-onset puberty usually causes additional symptoms, such as the appearance of secondary sex characteristics like facial or body hair. It can cause severe complications, including problems with appropriate growth.


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Post 3

Body odor in children is not always a concern. My daughter developed body odor sooner than kids her age. Her doctor said that she naturally has more sweat glands in her body, that's why.

Post 2

@literlly45-- Fish odor syndrome is a metabolic disorder. It's when a child or adult lacks certain enzymes responsible for digesting certain foods. When these foods are not properly digested, chemicals start building up in the body. The body tries to get rid of these chemicals through sweat. This results in body odor, even in children, who are not old enough to have body odor yet.

Your nephew's doctor must have identified foods for him to avoid. If he avoids those, the odor should slowly go away.

Post 1

My brother's son has something called fish odor syndrome. Apparently, this is causing him to have bad body odor even though he is only seven years old.

What is this syndrome? How is it treated?

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