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Ritalin Slows Growth In Children: Study

Ritalin Slows Growth In Children: Study

Tuesday, May 27th 2003

Stimulant drugs routinely used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can slow the rate of growth in children, a study has found.

Growth in children prescribed Ritalin and dexamphetamine was slowed by an average of 1cm a year over the first three years of treatment, the study of 51 Western Sydney children found.

Paediatric specialist Alison Poulton reviewed the records of children treated at her clinic to test her observation that the drugs were having a significant impact on growth.

"I found in fact that the pattern I was seeing was actually occurring." she said. "Many children lost weight during initial treatment with stimulants because the drugs tended to suppress the appetite", she said.

"Over the first three years of treatment they also have a reduction in their height velocity, or how fast they are growing taller," she said. "On average that amounts to about 3cm over three years or 1cm a year for the first three years. In some children, it seems to have very little effect and in some it is more.

She said the reason for the slowdown in growth was not clear, but might be linked to reduced food intake. Previous overseas studies also suggest the drugs could affect hormones, she said.

Dr Poulton said the slowed growth may only be temporary because growth rates appeared to normalise after 2 ½ years. However the effects of the drugs on growth and development during adolescence remained unclear. She said the effect of the drugs on growth could be a cause for concern, because this could reflect dietary insufficiencies that could lead to other developmental problems.

The study highlighted the need for children on ADHD medication to be regularly monitored against height-for-age charts, Dr Poulton said. Parents needed to take the growth factor into consideration when considering medicating their child.

Dr Poulton's study was published in the journal Paediatrics and Child Health.

A study published in the last year found Australian children were the world's third largest consumers of Ritalin and dexamphetamine, behind the USA and Canada.

Previous studies have found almost one in 50 Australian children between the ages of 6 and 17 are being medicated with psychostimulants.

Sourced from The New Zealand Herald. Monday, May 26 2003

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are useful for Children's Behaviour and Learning:

Calcium - Magnesium
Coromega - Omega 3 fish oil
Childs Sleep Support Tart Cherry Concentrate
Efalex Young Minds Brain Formula
Efalex Liquid 500ml
Enzogenol® 120mg
Hi Strength Liquid Fish Oil
Iron Chews
Kids Calm
Liquid Calcium
Mega Magnesium Powder
Mineral Power
Vitamin & Mineral Boost Powder

Related health information can be found here:

Eye Health
Mineral Power
Multivite - why taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement is so essential?
Neuromuscular system and nutritional support
Night Blindness
Recommended Calcium Intake for New Zealanders
Smart nutrients for better brain function

Related articles can be found here:

Doctors recommend a multi-vitamin a day
Healthy eye & brain development for babies
How to boost your brain power
Minerals: Critical for well-being
Nature or Bad Parenting?
Omega-3 - Studies find link to depression
Working with Children

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.


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