Heavy schoolbags do not cause back pain in children, despite common concerns about students straining under the backpacks, according to a latest Australian research.

A review of 69 studies on backpacks and back pain involving more than 72,000 students “found no convincing evidence that school bags increase the risk of back pain”, The University of Sydney said in a statement about its research on Thursday. “Contrary to popular opinion, the findings are telling us that there is likely no link between back pain and schoolbag characteristics like weight, type and the way kids are carrying them,” said the university’s Associate Prof. Steven Kamper, an expert on paediatric pain from its School of Public Health.

“The findings really call into question the various guidelines that advise only carrying 10 percent of one’s body weight, and statements from professional groups that endorse particular brands of backpacks,” said Kamper, who is also senior author of the study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. “If there was a cause and effect relationship it would have been apparent. It looks like people have just jumped on backpacks as an easy target without the evidence, and it’s stuck.” But the researchers did find a link between perceived weight and back pain, if the youngsters thought the backpack was heavy, they were more likely to report the affliction.

Low back pain is one of the leading causes of disability and absence from work worldwide. Studies show that about 18 to 24 percent of children report back pain at least once a month, with cases rising in the teenage years, said the university.

“We still don’t have a good understanding of pain in the childhood and adolescent years, and that’s why we often hear generic phrases like growing pains or adolescent pain,” said Kamper.”For many children pain comes and goes with little worry and we would be silly to intervene medically, however other children go on to experience ongoing pain and disruption to their lives. We need further research to help us understand how to distinguish between these groups and what is causing the pain.”


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