Most Backpack Injuries in Children Not Result of Weight, Study Finds
Children have a higher risk of injury from "tripping over backpacks or being hit with them" than from "using the bags to lug around heavy school supplies," according to a study in the January issue of Pediatrics, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. In the study, Cincinnati Children's Hospital researchers examined 247 children between the ages of six and 18 with backpack injuries reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1999 and 2000. The study found that 28% of the children were injured when they tripped over a backpack and that 13% were injured when they were hit by a backpack. In addition, 23% of the children were injured by "wearing, lifting or taking off a backpack," and only about 6% suffered back injuries from backpack use, the AP/Sun reports. The study concluded, "This result shows that the actual use of a backpack is not exceptionally dangerous, and efforts should be directed toward educating children on proper backpack safety habits rather than restricting loads and redesigning backpacks." Dr. Eric Wall, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and co-author of the study, said that safe backpack storage could have eliminated most of the injuries examined in the study. He said, "The floor is no place for a backpack" (Bellandi, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 1/6). The complete study is available online.
In related news, the New York Times on Dec. 24 examined the issue of student backpack weight, which has prompted an "outcry from thousands of parents" to school boards and state legislatures. The Times notes that Gov. Gray Davis (D) last September signed a law, scheduled to take effect in 2004, that will establish a maximum weight for elementary and middle school student textbooks. New Jersey and Massachusetts lawmakers have considered similar legislation (Dillon, New York Times, 12/24/02).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.