ADHD and growth: anthropometric changes in medicated and non-medicated ADHD boys

Med Sci Monit. 2009 Dec;15(12):CR595-9.


Background: ADHD children can show changes in growth and development. Many studies describe these changes as a side effect of stimulant medication. However, changes in somatic development can also appear in non-medicated children. This suggests that the changes could be a manifestation of the disorder itself and not just a side effect of the treatment.

Material/methods: This study compared anthropometric characteristics in medicated and non-medicated ADHD boys (n=104, age 4-16 years) with the normal non-clinical population. In contrast to most previous studies, complex anthropometrical measurements were used.

Results: The results showed significant differences between children with ADHD and those without the diagnosis, the differences found to be statistically significant (p<0.01) being signs of nutrition (percentage of fat, abdominal circumference) and growth suppression (lower body height, smaller head circumference). Differences between the medicated and non-medicated groups corresponded only to a lower value of body fat in the medicated children.

Conclusions: These results suggest that growth changes in ADHD children may be more specific to the disorder itself than to stimulant treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anthropometry
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / pathology*
  • Body Height / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child Development / drug effects
  • Child, Preschool
  • Growth / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / adverse effects*
  • Nutritional Status / drug effects


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate