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Ritalin Stunts the Growth of Children,
as Long Suspected

A recent study has finally grasped the nettle with respect to growth retardation of methylphenidate (Ritalin ) in ADHD children: In a study that compared 84 medicated children with their un-medicated siblings, a significant difference in growth rate was identified. Hence, "the prevalence of growth-suppressive effects of [Ritalin] is greater than previously suspected."

These data confirm what has long been suspected, and what should have been quantified long ago. This makes it all the more important to point out to parents that a non-drug remedy exists that helps the child to restore normal function in terms of behavior and attention. In one large-scale study, more than 85% of children who used Neurofeedback were able to get off Ritalin by the completion of brain training.

An anecdote from our clinical practice is relevant here: In starting to work with a small boy who had just been placed on Ritalin, we were told that his appetite, which had already been meager, plummeted further when Ritalin administration was started. In fact, this was the reason that the parents sought out a Neurofeedback practitioner. As it happens, the child's appetite was restored to normal with the very first neurofeedback session, and was maintained over subsequent sessions, even though the Ritalin dose had not yet been decreased.

One of the intangibles here is the height prejudice that exists in human societies. A lot of advantages accrue to those who are taller. Hence, there may be a significant but unquantifiable penalty paid by children on Ritalin with respect to their opportunities in life. This may be particularly the case with children who are already on the small side when they are first put on Ritalin. What may initially be a modest handicap may turn into a more significant one.

Lisska MC, Rivkees SA., Daily methylphenidate use slows the growth of children: a community based study, Journal of Pediatric Endocrinol Metab, 2003 Jun;16(5):711-8.

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