Daily methylphenidate use slows the growth of children: a community based study

J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Jun;16(5):711-8. doi: 10.1515/jpem.2003.16.5.711.


Objective: The use of methylphenidate (Ritalin) for treatment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has increased dramatically over the last decade. However, the influence of methylphenidate on growth remains controversial. Our goals were to assess whether methylphenidate, as prescribed in the community setting, influences growth.

Design: We examined the growth of 84 patients with ADHD treated with methylphenidate in two large pediatric practices. Height standard deviation (SD) scores of treated children were compared with those of untreated biological siblings. We also analyzed the doses of methylphenidate in relation to changes in growth.

Results: We found significant differences in mean height SD scores between treated children and sibling controls after 2 years of treatment. Effects on growth were observed over the broad range of doses used (10-80 mg per day).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the prevalence of grow-suppressive effects of methylphenidate is greater than previously suspected.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Body Height / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / administration & dosage
  • Methylphenidate / adverse effects*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate