read about the recent research in the GP clinical and the BMJ Archive of Disease in Childhood." />

Is your child's backpack too heavy?

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"Some studies have shown that an individual with back pain in adolescence is more likely to develop low back pain in adult life or that heavy backpacks can cause neck, shoulders and back muscular problems, such as scoliosis. Experts recommend that school children should not carry loads exceeding 10% of their body weight."

"Between 20% and 45% of young people aged 14–18 have back pain for more than 15 days. A study performed in Northeast England in 2002 showed a low back pain prevalence of 24%, with girls posing a higher prevalence compared with boys. Another study performed in Italy found that 11-year-old children carried backpacks as heavy as 20% of their body weight, and also that 58.4% had experienced back pain more than once in their lifetime.

Girls are more prone to experience back pain and back pathology than boys, although there are no differences on backpack weight by gender. Grimmer et al observed that girls were more prone to have changes in the craniovertebral angle when carrying a backpack and this association became stronger with age."

My children all carried backpacks to and from school. The assumption was that they only carried what they needed for that day. However, maybe parents need to check that books are removed or left at school if not required for homework. Schools will need to consider how to minimize the amount of books and equipment that children need to carry to and from school. Based on this research; many children are developing back problems that will persist in to adulthood which is disturbing news.

Patricia Wakeford
Clinical Negligence team

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