Growth deficits in ADHD children revisited: evidence for disorder-associated growth delays?

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1996 Nov;35(11):1460-9. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199611000-00014.


Objective: To reevaluate the hypothesis that stimulants cause growth deficits in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Method: Growth deficits in height and weight were examined in 124 children and adolescents with ADHD and 109 controls, using appropriate correction by age and parental height measures and attending to issues of pubertal stage, treatment, and psychiatric comorbidity.

Results: Small but significant differences in height were identified between ADHD children and controls. However, height deficits were evident in early but not late adolescent ADHD children and were unrelated to use of psychotropic medications. There was no evidence of weight deficits in ADHD children relative to controls, and no relationship between measures of malnutrition and short stature was identified.

Conclusions: ADHD may be associated with temporary deficits in growth in height through mid-adolescence that may normalize by late adolescence. This effect appears to be mediated by ADHD and not its treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Body Height / drug effects*
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Dwarfism / chemically induced*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / adverse effects*
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate