Ritalin Stunts Growth

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Sara PA, Jul 22, 2007.

  1. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    FWIW, a new study has determined kids who take Ritalin (and presumable the other methylphenidates -- Concerta, Metadate, etc) for three years are one inch shorter and 4.4 pounds lighter. WebMD article.
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Everybody is taller than average of my three Ritalin alumni. DDD
  3. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    The implication of the study is that your children would be slightly taller and heavier if they had not taken Ritalin. The study doesn't address whether or not a child is taller or heavier than average.
  4. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    My understanding is that research has shown that stimulants can slow growth, but they do not prevent people from achieving their full genetic potential for height.

    We had concerns about difficult child 1 for a time, but it turns out, his growth delay was due to Crohn's disease, and not the stims.

    difficult child 2, who has been on stims (until recently) since age 5, is in the 95th percentile for height for his age -- stims have obviously not impaired his growth at all :smile:
  5. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    well for obesity the study is good news. The study did not do a long term check , in any case medications are always a cost- benfit analysis. The use of medications should not be a long term goal but rather using multiple strategies we can get better results and hope for less medications
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    My understanding - because these drugs are appetite suppressants, the kids don't eat as much as they should sometimes and therefore risk being a bit undernourished compared to how they would be if they weren't on the medications.

    Speaking from our own observations, our boys often 'forget' to eat. Or I put a meal in front of them, they are too busy to come and eat, they're off as soon as they can and don't seem to want as much.

    While difficult child 3 is currently eating large amounts SOMETIMES, it's usually under circumstances where he can't leave the table to go play games, read a book or watch TV.

    difficult child 1 has also observed that whenever he skips his medications, he eats a lot more.

    I value what these medications have done for my kids, in terms of them coping better with the world. Our lives are a lot better as a result. But I do recognise that there are drawbacks and we have to be aware of them.

    We've made a choice, knowing the risks. I still would stand by that choice, given there seems to be nothing else that would do the job as well. But I do wish my boys ate a bit more than they do.

    Thanks for the info, Sara. It is right for us to always be fully informed so we can make our decisions with our eyes wide open. Denial never helps anybody.

  7. Janna

    Janna New Member

    That doesn't really surprise me. J is on 18 mg. Concerta. Although he is already extremely underweight/underheight for his age group, I see a decrease in food intake with the Concerta.

    I make him eat a huge breakfast in the A.M. prior to taking his pill. And luckily, we're up so early, the pill usually wears off after supper, so he gets food later in the evening, also.

    Although, this has made no inprovements in his growth.

    Thanks for the info, Sara.
  8. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    My son had been on Ritlin since the third grade. He is 6'7" and 165lbs. It is next to impossible to get clothing that fits himwithout spending a fortune. I hate to think how tall he would be if he hadn't taken it. LOL
  9. Stella Johnson

    Stella Johnson Active Member

    The weight doesn't surprise me. My difficult child has always been a skinny girl but even more so when she was on Adderall. As far as growth though she is the tallest in her class and almost wears the same size shoe that I do now. :surprise:

  10. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Remember this is the class of drugs that was used as diet pills back in the '60's. It worked for some but for others there was an eating rebound when the drugs wore off.

    As for the kids today, from the article:
  11. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    One of my concerns about difficult child taking a stimulant many years ago was stunted growth. It was the doctor's opinion +/-6 yrs ago that the benefits of the medication exceeded the possibility of loosing 1" of adult heigth. I agreed then and still do.

    It was a worry -- still is. Have to say, though, that I was more worried about effects of a stimulant on an undiscovered heart defect.
  12. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    This is true, I also saw a study that compared Ritalin to Adderall, and Adderall caused more weight loss and slower growth. I do not remember the source, but could dig it up. I think we just have to weigh the risks vs benefits.
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I can't imagine how many subjects they would have to follow to
    figure out how many were shorter than they should be as adults.
    We have kids in our extended family, but in the same family, that
    vary considerably. One kid is 6' something at 14 and another kid
    is perhaps 5'7" at 18. How many thousands would it take to counteract the variable in gene combos?

    My guess is that some may be affected and some may not be affected but I can't see how it could be proven when the difference noted is so small. DDD
  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    I just found this post.

    Both Cory and Jamie took ritalin. Cory took it for about 4 or 5 years before switching to adderall for 2 years. Jamie took ritalin for 10 years. Jamie is actually a half inch taller than he was predicted at age 2 and Cory is exactly the height predicted.

    Jamie is 6'5.5" and Cory is 6'1" so if ritalin stunted their growth I would hate to see how tall they might have been. All my boys are 6'1 or over.

    Now the stims did keep them a bit thinner than one would think they should be looking at parental genetics. I had Billy in husky's, Jamie in slims, and Cory in regulars. Now it is pretty much negated. Billy is still large but Cory is my thin one and Jamie is the normal weight one.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    The medications are known to reduce appetite. We live in a society where kids are growing taller than their parents, girls reach menarche sooner than their mothers, etc. Improved nutrition means we have healthier children, as a rule.
    And now, we're increasingly finding, in Western society, problems with childhood obesity.

    What I'm saying - we are in a state of change, in terms of national nutrition and children's growth.

    Where appetite is suppressed (and this happens more with some than others) you run the RISK of it also hampering vertical growth too. We generally accept that calories in = calories out. I think it is more complex than that, but we'll let it ride for now. The thing is, if you reduce the calories in, also reducing the nutrition (such as less dairy overall, for example) then this is going to have an impact on growth. It may be miniscule, especially considering the upward trend we've observed in recent generations, but we need to know of the likelihood so we can take it on board with all the other benefits/drawbacks.

    If you are a heavier person and also have an adequate intake of calcium, your skeleton will be stronger than a slimmer person's, because it is automatically doing more load-bearing exercise (just by carrying around the extra weight). A really slim child is often at greater risk of a broken bone - not only because they have less padding, but their bones simply haven't needed the extra strength - they're doing OK, why lay down extra bone when the calcium may be needed elsewhere in the body? Our bodies are efficient utilisers of resources and try not to waste energy/resources needlessly.
    A young girl of my acquaintance - very slender. I suspect a certain amount of ADHD in the family too, unmedicated. her older brother is very impulsive, rushes around everywhere. Plenty of load-bearing exercise as he climbs trees, wields a hammer & chisel, jumps off walls etc. Young sister was playing on the school gym equipment, was hanging from a parallel bar over soft-fall (shredded rubber tyres) and let go to fall 6" - spiral fracture of her leg, tibia & fibula. Why? Nothing wrong medically, except that her skeleton was still very much under construction at age 8.
    She's in high school now - plays basketball. Her parents got her into more active sport once her leg healed, to help build up her bones.

    So a slimmer person could, for various reasons, aslo end up slightly shorter than they should have been. Or maybe not as strong. Or just about any variation on slightly reduced nutrition/calories.

    Or they may not. It depends on so many variables. If the fewer calories they eat do include enough of the vital building blocks, then t hey should still reach their projected height.

    Statistics are about looking at large numbers, to get an overall picture. In this overall picture of kids growing up on stimulants, a number of these kids will still be getting enough nutrition; but as a group, there will be fewer in this group than in the unmedicated group. There will be more in the group where they're getting enough calories to get by, and MOST of their required nutrition, but maybe end up a cm or so shorter than they should have been.
    And there may be more in the group where even unmedicated, they may have not got enough proper nutrition anyway, but now are even worse off with reduced appetite thrown into the mix.

    I guess for us it's also more complex because we have to contend with food sensitivities and faddishness. difficult child 3 won't eat anything with a creamy texture; easy child 2/difficult child 2 won't eat anything with 'bits' in it, so no biscuits or cakes or anything else with nuts in it. She will eat nuts alone, but not IN anything. Neither of them will eat mushrooms. BF2 craves meat but prefers chicken. husband hates too much chicken and wants his red meat. easy child 2/difficult child 2 refuses to eat stew and only eats a tiny amount anyway.
    They need to eat fruit - husband can't eat more than one small tomato a day, no other fruit or he gets mouth ulcers. A taste of very ripe pineapple, preferably cooked. A small slice of kiwi fruit - a segment or two of mandarin. Not much else. Meanwhile difficult child 3 & I can eat oranges by the dozen. Same with kiwifruit. The kids WILL eat fruit but won't get it themselves. If I make up a fruit platter, it will disappear.
    I asked difficult child 3 yesterday (who needs more fibre at the moment) if he wanted some kiwifruit as well as the orange segments he was eating. "No thanks," he said. But I'd already begun to cut it up so I put it on his plate, intending to eat it myself if necessary. he ate it happily, I don't think he even noticed.

    I think what a lot of this boils down to, is if your kid is on stimulants, and if you think they're not eating properly/enough, then put the food in front of them - food you know they will eat, but also food you know their bodies need. Chances are they'll eat it once it's there.

  16. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    That's what statistical analysis is all about. It's a field of mathematics and a science unto itself used by researchers in the other sciences. Computers have made it far easier than it once was.
  17. nlg319

    nlg319 New Member

    My son has been taking stimulants since 2nd grade and is now entering 7th grade. He is in the 90th percentile for both height and weight. I am grateful everyday that there are medications that can help him focus therefore inproving his self esteem in school. I think it should be noted that it is an individual choice of whether to medicate your child and what works best for your child and family.
  18. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    As I said before, the research does not speak to averages (or percentiles); the research indicates that children who take stims are smaller and lighter than they would be if they didn't take stims. However, that may be of little concern for some people even if the child were in the bottom 10th percentile of height and weight. But then, there is this finding: