Concerned over child's heavy schoolbag

PHOTO: Concerned over child's heavy schoolbag

Q: My child carries a very heavy schoolbag to school each day. I'm concerned that the weight will stunt his growth or make his back crooked. My mother-in-law says that it will not do him any lasting damage and that it will 'train' his back to become even stronger. I'm not sure what to believe.

Can a constant, heavy load really affect my child's back? If so, what can I do to alleviate his burden? He says he needs all his books everyday.

A: Normally, one should carry bags no heavier than 20-25 per cent of their body weight, and it should be carried evenly over both shoulders.

Heavy bags will not cause or worsen scoliosis, and they will not stunt the growth of the child, but they may aggravate back pain.

To alleviate this issue, consider a trolley bag to school or put some of the heavier books in the school's locker.

Answer provided by Adjunct Associate Professor Hee Hwan Tak, Singapore Medical Group's Medical Director, SMG Orthopaedic Group and Centre for Spine & Scoliosis Surgery