Effects of stimulant medication on growth rates across 3 years in the MTA follow-up

James M. Swanson, Glen R. Elliott, Laurence L. Greenhill, Timothy Wigal, L. Eugene Arnold, Benedetto Vitiello, Lily Hechtman, Jeffery N. Epstein, William E. Pelham, Howard B. Abikoff, Jeffrey H. Newcorn, Brooke S.G. Molina, Stephen P. Hinshaw, Karen C. Wells, Betsy Hoza, Peter S. Jensen, Robert D. Gibbons, Kwan Hur, Annamarie Stehli, Mark DaviesJohn S. March, C. Keith Conners, Mark Caron, Nora D. Volkow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

234 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the hypothesis of stimulant medication effect on physical growth in the follow-up phase of the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children With ADHD. METHOD: Naturalistic subgroups were established based on patterns of treatment with stimulant medication at baseline, 14-, 24-, and 36-month assessments: not medicated (n = 65), newly medicated (n = 88), consistently medicated (n = 70), and inconsistently medicated (n = 147). Analysis of variance was used to evaluate effects of subgroup and assessment time on measures of relative size (z scores) obtained from growth norms. RESULTS: The subgroup x assessment time interaction was significant for z height (p <.005) and z weight (p <.0001), due primarily to divergence of the newly medicated and the not medicated subgroups. These initially stimulant-naïve subgroups had z scores significantly >0 at baseline. The newly medicated subgroup showed decreases in relative size that reached asymptotes by the 36-month assessment, when this group showed average growth of 2.0 cm and 2.7 kg less than the not medicated subgroup, which showed slight increases in relative size. CONCLUSIONS: Stimulant-naïve school-age children with Combined type attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder were, as a group, larger than expected from norms before treatment but show stimulant-related decreases in growth rates after initiation of treatment, which appeared to reach asymptotes within 3 years without evidence of growth rebound. Copyright 2007

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1015-1027
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Growth
  • Long-term outcome
  • Methylphenidate
  • Side effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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