Stories about: backpacks

Back-to-school health: How heavy is your child’s backpack?

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As you begin to prepare for the new school year, consider how much weight will rest on your child’s shoulders. Millions of students in the United States carry backpacks overloaded with textbooks, sports equipment and more, to and from school. But the weight of the backpack and how it is worn could lead to back problems. If a backpack weighs more than 15 percent of a child’s body weight, it could induce back pain. Backpacks should weigh much less; additionally, they should be worn on both shoulders for equal weight distribution with the height falling two inches below the shoulder blades and sitting at waist level.

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Back-to-school health: Avoiding backpack induced back pain

Do you know how much your child’s backpack weighs? If it’s more than 15 percent of his or her body weight, then it could hurt your child’s back. Millions of students in the United States carry backpacks to and from school, often overloaded with books, sports equipment and more. Weight of the backpack isn’t the only issue; how the bag is worn can also lead to back problems. Backpacks should be worn on both shoulders for equal weight distribution, and the height should fall two inches below the shoulder blades and sit at waist level.

Pierre d’Hemencourt, MD, of Boston Children’s Division of Sports Medicine, answers a few questions about children and backpack safety.

Can heavy backpacks really cause back problems for my child?

This issue is a bit controversial because there’s no specific proof heavy backpacks are a direct cause of back problems. During adolescence kids are going through growth spurts and so their bones and posture are susceptible to many things, from sport injury to lugging overly heavy backpacks. However, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Physical Therapy Association have set out guidelines that should be used with backpacks to reduce the risks associated with them.

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Health Headlines: Industrial chemicals as dietary supplements, growth hormone therapy and school lunch safety

Other stories we’ve been reading:

Adolescents taking a certain anti-psychotic drugs are at an increased risk for diabetes. An industrial chemical is being sold as a dietary supplement for autism treatment. Diabetes drugs are helping dieting teens lose weight. [Read Minnie’s story about living with Type 2 diabetes.]

Loving foster homes improves children’s attention and impulsivity. Girls with ADHD are more likely to develop other mental health risks.

Obese boys are more likely to begin puberty later in life. A Girl Scouts’ survey found that the fashion industry pressures girls to be thin. [Read about unrealistic media images and how one teen feels about them.] Boys are treated with growth hormone therapy much more often than girls.

Babies of mothers who smoke during pregnancy are much more stressed out. [Read how dangerous secondhand smoke is to children.] Black and Hispanic infants are more likely to have HIV. Expectant mothers can receive pregnancy tips through texting.

Girls who bike to school are in better shape than those who walk or get a ride. The USDA is tightening requirements to assure school lunch safety.[Read about our nation’s fight for kids’ food.]  Overloaded backpacks set your child up for spine strain. [Read about National School Backpack Awareness Day.]

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