Scottish schoolchildren spines under pressure by heavy school bags


By Oliver Farrimond

OVERBURDENED Scottish schoolchildren could face a future of debilitating spine problems unless school-bag loads are lightened, according to doctors.

Reports have emerged of a rise in spinal disfigurement conditions – such as Scoliosis – as a result of lugging around heavy backpacks in Scottish schools.

Experts also point to the plastic seating many schoolchildren have to sit in as a contributing cause of back pain amongst children.

And now spinal charities are calling for an “urgent overview” into the problem.

Sean McDougall, spokesman for the charity BackCare, said that an estimated one in five pupils now experienced back pain.

He said: “The serious concern is the weight children are being asked carry to and from school.

“With girls in particular, bags are usually carried over one shoulder, placing great stain on the spine.

“The laws of physics dictate that the hips will tilt in the opposite direction, curving the spine to compensate and create a counter balance.

“The body gets in the habit of being in that position and it becomes self-perpetuating.

“The very real worry is that this leads to serious, long-term damage.

“We have heard of one case in Scotland where an 11-year-old girl was found to have a school weighing more than nine pounds – and that was just the basics.

“Add on musical instruments and heavy wet weather clothes and the load potentially increases significantly.

“The rates of back problems in school children are going up, not down.

“We need to have an urgent overview of this issue.”

Experts claim that children risk long-term damage to their growing spines if they carry more than 15 per cent of their bodyweight.

But charity BackCare claims that many youngsters are carrying as much as one-fifth of their own bodyweight into school.

Back pain specialist Dr Peter Skew said: “As more children are going to their GPs with back pain, more cases of Scoliosis are being diagnosed.

“The problems started when children stopped having their own desks in which to leave heavy books.

“It is a challenge and does lead to pains and strains.”