A new study reveals that atomoxetine (Strattera ®, Lilly), an FDA-approved medication for ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), carries a risk of slowing growth rate in some young children, especially in the first 18 months of use.  The meta-analysis of 13 studies examined data on 97 children who stayed in clinical studies for at least 2 years.  The mean actual height of the children at the 2 year mark was 2.7 cm (about 1 inch) less than the expected/predicted height based on standard pediatric growth charts.  Data showed a modest increase in growth velocity after the 18 month mark, suggesting a possibility that some children might later “catch up” in height to measure closer to their predicted height.

Similarly, the mean actual weight at 2 years was 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs.) lower than expected.  It is unknown whether these deviations in height and weight from expected values were due to appetite suppression or other metabolic factors, but the findings are in line with changes seen in studies of stimulants in children with ADHD.  The largest deviations from expected values occurred in the younger children who were largest at baseline.

The study was limited in that it followed a relatively small number of children, and in that it was a meta-analysis with no placebo control group.  Some of the children were taking doses greater than that recommended by the manufacturer.  The study by C. Kratochvil et al was published in the August 2006 Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.