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.