Charlotte, NC - CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Before you send your kids off to school next week, you may want to check their backpacks. Health experts say the wrong weight or style could have a negative effect on your child's health.
According to Dr. Elizabeth Perry, a recent study showed that once a backpack gets above a certain percentage of a child's body weight, it increases pressure on the child's lower back and increases the curvature in the spine.
Perry suggests a backpack be no more than 10 to 20 percent of a child's weight.
"The weight of the backpack is the biggest issue, and there's a limit to what schools can do about that," Perry said. "A textbook weighs what a textbook weighs; however, maybe the child doesn't need to bring it home everyday. Maybe they can leave it at school."
Perry says backpacks with two thick straps are best because they can distribute weight evenly. Also, smaller backpacks have less room. A bigger backpack will encourage a child to fill it to the maximum, Perry said.
Children should use both straps and adjust them, so the backpack doesn't fall more than 4 inches blow the waist. It will help prevent a child from overcompensating the weight by leaning forward and putting more strain on their spine.
"What the long term ramifications are, aren't clear at this point but what is clear is that thousands of children go the emergency rooms every year with complaints of back pain that's likely coming from carrying to heavy a backpack in an improper fashion," Perry said.