More than 13,700 kids aged 5 to 18 were treated in hospitals and doctors' offices for backpack-related injuries in a single year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) advises parents and caregivers to pay close attention to children's posture and not wait for them to complain about back pain before lightening their load.
"When used correctly, backpacks can be a good way to carry the necessities of the school day," Dr. Melanie Kinchen, an orthopedic surgeon and AAOS spokeswoman, said in an academy news release. "Backpack injuries are commonly caused by wearing overloaded backpacks, as well as lifting and carrying them incorrectly. Parents and teachers should guide kids to take preventative measures. Start by choosing a backpack that is appropriately sized for your child or have them use a rolling backpack as an alternative to carrying their heavy load on their shoulders."