Growth and sexual maturation in children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Growth and maturation in children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has been the subject of controversy for many years. The purpose of this review is to describe the course of current opinion, summarize findings that have been supported by scientific evidence and show why one widely disseminated opinion is unfounded.

Recent findings

Recent studies have shown reductions in expected growth in height and weight in children starting treatment with stimulant medication. With prolonged treatment of 2–3 years, growth velocities show a trend towards normalization. There is evidence from recently published data that the effect of stimulant medication on growth is closely linked to its therapeutic effect – an interpretation which has not previously been reported. Normal growth velocities have been demonstrated in untreated children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Summary

Recent findings that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder treated with stimulant medication grow more slowly than untreated children confirm the results of the early studies of 1972–1973. This should now focus research towards the areas that require further investigation, such as establishing the mechanism of the stimulant-associated growth attenuation, and defining in more detail the effects of stimulant medication on growth and maturation in children of different ages.

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