Majority of Children Overburdened by Backpacks

Children carrying heaviest backpacks have higher risk of back pain, especially girls

MONDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of students carry backpacks weighing more than 10 percent of their body weight, and those carrying the heaviest backpacks are at increased risk of back pain, according to a study published online March 10 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Paloma Rodríguez-Oviedo, of the Hospital da Costa in Burela, Spain, and colleagues studied 1,403 school children (aged 12 to 17 years) to examine backpack weight and body mass index and their relation to back pain and back pathology.

The researchers found that 61.4 percent of students had backpacks exceeding 10 percent of their body weight. Those who carried the heaviest backpacks had a significantly higher risk of back pain (odds ratio [OR], 1.50; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.06 to 2.12); the risk of back pathology was also higher, but this difference was not statistically significant (OR, 1.42; 95 percent CI, 0.86 to 2.32). Girls showed a higher risk of back pain compared with boys.

"Carrying backpacks increases the risk of back pain and possibly the risk of back pathology," the authors write. "We strongly encourage the medical and educational community to start advising parents and school children about the risks posed by heavy school bags and the fact that this risk can be easily reduced."

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