A new study has revealed that heavy school bags cause lower back pain in children. The research team of Dr S Mehra, R Narasimhan, and three others from the Apollo Centre for Advanced Pediatrics, New Delhi, has noted that carrying excess weight could make these children vulnerable to 'musculo-skeletal problems.'
In a research paper presented at the annual conference of Indian Academy of Pediatrics recently, the researchers emphasised that 'low back pain in school children with no apparent cause is a common problem, seen in almost 34 per cent of students.'
The study notes that school children frequently carry bags that are more than 10 per cent of their body weight. This may predispose them to musculo-skeletal symptoms.
"The issue needs to be highlighted to the educationists so that specified strategies can be developed to reduce the burden being carried by these young children," say the doctors.
"A cut off of 10 per cent of body weight has been proposed for school bags based on manual handling guidelines for adults."
A total of 1,134 school children between the age of 10 and 15 were enrolled in the study. The weight of the school bags recorded in this study varied between three kgs and 15 kgs.
Only 22 per cent of the children carried bags weighing less than the recommended 10 per cent of body weight. The children on an average carried school bags weighing 15.5 per cent of the body weight and 16.9 per cent carried bags more than 20 per cent of their body weight.
The rucksack was the most common type of bag in use and 83 per cent of the kids carried their bags by strapping them on both their shoulders.
Dr Neelam Mohan, consultant, Paediatrics, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, says: "To lower the bag burden a number of schools these days have lockers where children can keep books. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the parents to check that their wards carry books according to the syllabus. This way they can surely contribute to lowering the bag burden."