ADHD Medicines May Not Stunt Growth

ADHD stimulant treatments did not affect adult height in recent study

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) ADHD is often treated with stimulants, which some researchers and parents are concerned could limit children's growth. But new research may relieve those concerns.

Although stimulants have been found safe and effective for treating ADHD, concerns about them stunting growth in children have lingered.

A recent study found that stimulants used to treat ADHD did not affect children’s final height as adults.

"Speak with a pediatrician if you are concerned about your child's growth."

Elizabeth B. Harstad, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues authored the study.

The American Psychological Association noted that children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) often have poor impulse control and trouble paying attention.

While the advised treatment for ADHD varies on patient age, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that the most common stimulants used were amphetamine and methylphenidate (brand names Concerta, Ritalin and others).

Stimulants treat ADHD by raising levels of certain chemicals like dopamine in the brain. These chemicals improve focus and attention span.

The study authors looked at 340 adults born between 1976 and 1982 and diagnosed with ADHD as children. They compared their adult heights to a group of 680 children without ADHD.

After assessing the patients' height and treatment data, the authors found that neither stimulants nor ADHD were associated with a patient’s adult height.

The study authors also noted that some male ADHD patients treated with stimulants for over three months had growth spurts later than those not treated. There were no major differences in these patients' heights as adults.

Overall, the authors concluded that ADHD stimulant treatments were not linked with differences in adult height or major changes in growth.

Pediatrics published this study online in September.

The National Institutes of Health funded the research. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 5, 2014
Last Updated:
September 6, 2014