Is Your Child’s Backpack Weighing Them Down?

TUCSON – For parents, school always brings up health concerns: how to keep your kids away from germs, how to keep them eating healthy, and how to make sure they get enough sleep.

Something parents may not think about is how to keep their children’s backs safe from harm.

Dr. Brian Nielsen, a local pediatric orthopedist, says your kid’s backpack should not weigh more than 15 percent over the weight of your child. He says too much weight on their shoulders can leave them with irreversible back damage.

“If you have a heavy backpack and you’re leaning back, you can develop a little stress fracture at the lower back and those don’t usually heal,” he said.

New sixth grader Mackenzie Sanders is already feeling the pain.

“It hurts around the shoulders and sometimes I’m kind of hunching over because of the weight,” she said. Her concerned mom does not have any answers.

“I really have no choice. She’s got to have all of her books and supplies,” she said.

However, doctors say there are some things parents can do to help.

Make sure your kids backpacks have wide, padded straps and that they carry it on both shoulders. Fitness level is also a factor that can make a difference.

“The more fit the child is, the better the posture is, the more flexible they are, the less they’re going to have problems,” Dr. Nielsen said.

Another thing to keep in mind is your family history. If your family members have back issues, your child may be more prone to having them as well. See a specialist if their pain persists for more than a couple of weeks or spreads to other parts of their body.

As appeared on KVOA Channel 4 News on November 10, 2010

Related Document: Is Your Backback Safe? 3 Steps to Safe Backback Use