Children Carrying Heavy Backpacks Could Suffer From Backaches

by Thilaka Ravi on Jul 27 2009 4:40 PM

Children returning to school are likely to struggle with the weight of their heavy school bags, thereby increasing their risk of suffering from an injury, warns an expert.

"Parents should inspect their child's backpack from time to time. They often carry much more than they should with extra shoes, toys and other unnecessary items," said Dr. Michael Vitale, chief of pediatric spine and scoliosis surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital.

"A backpack shouldn't weigh more than 15 percent of the child's weight, or about seven pounds for a child who weighs 50 pounds.

"If it is textbooks that are making the bag too heavy, parents should speak with the teacher-sometimes these books can be left at school," he added.

To prevent injury, Vitale suggests that children should wear a backpack correctly over both shoulders to spread the weight evenly.

Alternately, they should consider a wheeled backpack.

He also said that if the child experiences persistent pain, parents should consult with their pediatrician, who may recommend physical therapy to strengthen the back muscles.

Some indicators of trouble include when the child's posture changes while wearing the backpack, when they struggle to put it on, or any pain, tingling or red marks.