Depression of Growth in Hyperactive Children on Stimulant Drugs

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In 29 hyperactive children, dextroamphetamine (10 or 15 mg per day) and methylphenidate (30 or 40 mg per day) caused suppression of weight gain. Mean yearly weight gain of nine children on medication for two years was 1.8 kg as compared to the expected gain of 3.1 kg. Depression of growth in height varied in degree; however, children whose growth was depressed also had proportional depression of growth in height. Thirteen children who took stimulant drugs for nine or more months showed a rebound weight gain when medication was abruptly stopped. Dextroamphetamine inhibition of weight gain was not related to dose and was significantly greater than that observed with methylphenidate. Daily doses of 20 mg of methylphenidate did not inhibit weight gain. SEVERAL reports have documented that for hyperactive children the initial period of stimulant-drug use causes weight loss.1, 2 Tolerance, however, develops to this drug-induced effect on weight.3, 4 In children, after the phase of transient weight loss, it has generally been assumed, though never shown, that the continual use of a therapeutic dose of a stimulant drug has no lasting effect on normal growth.5 This report provides data testing for the long term effects of stimulant drugs on indexes of growth in hyperactive children. Data were collected on the weight gain of 20 hyperactive children who had been on stimulant medication for.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-220
Number of pages4
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 3 1972

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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