Ritalin stunts growth

A major US study has recently reported that, after three years on Ritalin, children are about an inch shorter and 4.4 pounds lighter than their peers. Previously, researchers had thought that any short-term stunting of growth would be made up by a hypothesised 'growth spurt' that would occur with continued treatment. However, this study found no evidence of such a growth spurt, and whether affected children eventually grow to normal size remains uncertain.

Another widely accepted theory was that ADHD itself stunts children's growth but, in a surprise finding, the study found that children with ADHD who do not take stimulant drugs are actually much larger than those without ADHD. And these untreated children continue to grow much faster than those taking the drugs. This study suggests that growth monitoring should be standard practice for children on these medications.

The team involved in this study also compared the effect of Ritalin relative to behavioural treatment alone and found that, while the effect of the drug was substantial at 14 months, it had reduced somewhat by 24 months and, by 36 months, the ADHD drug had no relative advantage over behavioural treatment.

Source Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, August 2007; vol 46: pp 1014-1026.

Read more

First published in 2007

Click here for more research reports on treatments for ADHD



Top of page