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Ritalin May Slow Growth in Some

But Researchers Say Most Kids Catch Up, Reach Normal Adult Height

Nausea May Be Warning Sign continued...

In cases where the Ritalin user had a brother who was close to the same age and who did not take the drug, for example, the siblings had similar adult heights.

But Ritalin users who experienced nausea and/or vomiting when starting the drug were found to be a full 2.6 inches shorter as adults than Ritalin users who did not experience stomach problems as a side effect of the drug.

While the finding suggests that the early side effect of treatment may be associated with a large reduction in adult height, Kramer points out that only a small percentage of treated children experienced nausea and vomiting.

"This finding needs to be replicated before any conclusions can be made," he says. "But if a child does experience this problem after starting on Ritalin, it may be prudent to reconsider treatment."

500% Increase in Use

Roughly 10 million Ritalin prescriptions are filled each year in the U.S. for the treatment of children and adults with ADHD. Sales of Ritalin and chemically similar drugs increased by more than 500% in the 1990s.

University of Texas Medical Branch pediatrics professor Wayne Snodgrass, MD, says Ritalin's potential impact on height is not high on the list of potential concerns about the drug. Snodgrass is chairman of the committee on drugs of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"A much bigger issue is whether kids are being given a correct diagnosis before being given stimulants," he tells WebMD. "Medication can be very useful for some children, but parents need to make sure that their child has a good thorough evaluation before considering it."

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