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Is ADHD associated with shorter-than-expected height?

News
Article
Contemporary PEDS JournalOctober 2023
Volume 40
Issue 9

To assess the role of familial factors, investigators analyzed data for a family-based group created from another Swedish national register that included 833,172 individuals without ADHD with different levels of relatedness to the individuals with ADHD and a group of matched controls.

Is ADHD associated with shorter-than-expected height? | Image Credit: © Contemporary Pediatrics - © Contemporary Pediatrics - stock.adobe.com.

Is ADHD associated with shorter-than-expected height? | Image Credit: © Contemporary Pediatrics - © Contemporary Pediatrics - stock.adobe.com.

Article highlights

  • Examined data from 14,268 individuals with ADHD and 71,339 controls in Sweden, comparing effects of stimulant treatment.
  • Found a link between shorter height and ADHD, primarily due to familial factors, with prenatal issues and low socioeconomic status also playing a role.
  • Association between shorter height and ADHD remained unaffected by ADHD medication, indicating stimulant treatment didn't significantly influence growth.
  • Study provided reassurance regarding stimulants' impact on growth, although caution is needed due to the study's homogeneous population and lack of individual child analysis.

Yes, according to the findings of the largest study to date on this subject. Investigators compared data for 14,268 individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and 71,339 controls (all subjects were males from the Swedish Military Conscription Register) divided into 2 groups: 1 group of men whose data was derived before stimulant treatment was introduced to Sweden and 1 group of men with data from after its introduction, who potentially were treated with a prescription for ADHD medication. To assess the role of familial factors, investigators analyzed data for a family-based group created from another Swedish national register that included 833,172 individuals without ADHD with different levels of relatedness to the individuals with ADHD and a group of matched controls.

The analyses showed that the association between shorter height and attention ADHD was based on familial factors, with relatives of individuals with ADHD more likely to be of shorter height than relatives of those without the condition. The association between shorter height and ADHD also was partially explained by prenatal factors, psychiatric disorders, low socioeconomic status, and a shared familial liability for ADHD, the study found. But the association was not affected by the use of ADHD medications.

THOUGHTS FROM DR FARBER:

This study is reassuring about the effect of stimulants on growth. I note that the population was rather homogeneous, which could throw off the data, and the study did not look at children individually. Thus, when 1 of my patients on stimulants is falling off the growth curve, I still will aim to change their medicine.

Click here for more from the October 2023 issue of Contemporary Pediatrics®.

Reference:

Ahlberg R, Garcia-Argibay M, Rietz ED, et al. Associations between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), ADHD medication, and shorter height: a quasi-experimental and family-based study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2023;S0890-8567(23)00185-5. doi:10.1016/j/jaac.2023.03.015

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