Predictors of adult height and weight in boys treated with methylphenidate for childhood behavior problems

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2000 Apr;39(4):517-24. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200004000-00022.


Objective: To examine associations between childhood treatment with methylphenidate (MPH) and adult height and weight.

Method: Subjects were 97 boys, aged 4 to 12 years, with behavior problems who were (1) referred to a child psychiatry outpatient clinic, (2) treated clinically with MPH for an average of 36 months, and (3) reevaluated between ages 21 and 23 years. Hierarchical analyses predicted adult height and weight from sets of non-medication and medication-related variables.

Results: Medicated subjects' age, height, and parental socioeconomic status (SES) at referral predicted 44.8% of variation in adult height. Medicated subjects' birth weight, age, height and weight at referral, and parental SES predicted 61.8% of variation in adult weight. With these non-medication variables held constant, initial nausea and vomiting side effects predicted 4.4% incremental variation in adult height, and MPH maintenance dose predicted 3.2% incremental variation in adult weight.

Conclusions: Medicated individuals who had attained their final stature did not differ in average height or weight from family, community, or unmedicated controls. Most aspects of medication were not associated with adult height or weight. In some individuals, nausea and vomiting side effects and treatment with higher doses of MPH were associated with adult growth decrements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Height / drug effects*
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / adverse effects*
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use
  • Nausea
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Vomiting


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate