September 17, 2014
ADHD, Stimulants Don't Affect Children's Growth Rate,
Adult Height

Boston—A new study provides some reassurance to parents with a common concern: Do attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the drugs used to treat it affect my child’s growth rate or eventual height?

Although some studies in the 1970s reported height reductions in children treated with stimulants, more recent studies have been mixed—some suggesting growth reductions and others finding no significant growth changes.

Noting that “there is ongoing concern that stimulant medications may adversely affect growth,” a study group led by researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital used a sample of ADHD cases and controls from a population-based birth cohort to assess growth and how it is affected by stimulant treatment. The results were published recently in the journal Pediatrics.

Background in the study explains that “the potential adverse effect of stimulants on growth may be due to both their anorexic effect and an increase in synaptic dopamine, which acutely inhibits growth hormone.”

The study focused on 340 childhood ADHD cases and 680 controls drawn from a 1976 to 1982 birth cohort included in medical records at 41 public and private schools in Rochester, Minnesota. After abstracting height and stimulant treatment information from medical records, the researchers conducted a prospective, adult follow-up study.

Results indicate that neither growth rate nor final adult height was significantly affected by either ADHD itself or treatment with stimulants. A decrease in growth rate noted for 59 ADHD using stimulants for 3 years or more turned out to be clinically insignificant.

Overall, the difference in height between men treated with stimulants and those not treated with stimulants was 0.6 cm, while the difference between treated and untreated women was 0.2 cm, according to the results.

“Childhood ADHD is not associated with dysregulated growth,” according to the authors. “Furthermore, in this population-based cohort, stimulant treatment of childhood ADHD is not associated with deficits in adult height nor with a significant adverse impact on growth throughout childhood and adolescence.”

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect