A growing number of children get diagnosed of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, a neurodevelopment disorder marked by difficulty in paying attention and controlling impulsive behavior as well as being overly active.
Many of the children who have the condition are given stimulant medications such as Adderall and Ritalin but while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that between 70 to 80 percent of children with ADHD respond positively to these medications, some parents are wary of giving these to their children because of concerns that these drugs could stunt their children's growth. Findings of a new research, however, suggest that parents should not be worried about the effects of these drugs on their children's final height.
In a new study published in Pediatrics on Sept. 1 that aims to determine whether or not there is an association between use of stimulant medications in children with ADHD and height deficits in adulthood, William Barbaresi, from the Boston Children's Hospital at the Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts, and colleagues examined the medical records of 340 children with ADHD who were born between 1976 and 1982 and compared their height upon reaching adulthood with those of 680 children without ADHD.
The researchers found that neither ADHD nor treatment with the stimulant drugs was linked with the children's height in adulthood. Although the boys with ADHD who received stimulants for over 3 three years had delayed growth spurt by about six months compared with their peers who did not receive the treatment, the researchers observed that there was no difference in their final height in adulthood. The study also found that there is no association between the duration and dose of treatment and final height.
"Our findings suggest that ADHD treatment with stimulant medication is not associated with differences in adult height or significant changes in growth," the researchers wrote.
Despite that their study has found evidence that stimulant treatments do not have significant effect on the adult height of children with ADHD, Barbaresi said that it is still important that doctors continue to monitor the growth of kids who take these stimulant drugs because it is possible that some of the participants in the study may have stopped their medications when their growth rate has raised concerns and that the research was mostly conducted on white participants which could limit the findings of the study.
Estimates from the American Psychiatric Association show that 5 percent of children have ADHD albeit the actual number may be higher.