Arch Dis Child doi:10.1136/archdischild-2011-301253
  • Short research report

School children's backpacks, back pain and back pathologies

Press Release
  1. Javier Turiso5
  1. 1Emergency Service, Hospital da Costa, Burela, Spain
  2. 2Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  3. 3CIBER de Epidemiología y Salud Pública, CIBERESP, Spain
  4. 4Rheumathology Service, University Hospital Complex of A Coruña, La Coruña, Spain
  5. 5Department of Traumatology, University Hospital Son Dureta, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Professor Alberto Ruano Raviña, Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, School of Medicine, C/ San Francisco s/n, University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela CP 15782, La Coruña, Spain; alberto.ruano{at}
  1. Contributors All authors contributed equally to the writing of the manuscript. PRO, ARR, FBG and MPR designed the study. DGF, AFA and ICN performed the statistical analysis. All authors interpreted the results and discussed the most relevant information to be communicated.

  • Received 24 October 2011
  • Accepted 29 January 2012
  • Published Online First 10 March 2012


Objective To investigate whether backpack weight is associated with back pain and back pathology in school children.

Design Cross-sectional study.

Setting Schools in Northern Galicia, Spain.

Patients All children aged 12–17.

Interventions Backpack weight along with body mass index, age and gender.

Main outcome measures Back pain and back pathology.

Results 1403 school children were analysed. Of these, 61.4% had backpacks exceeding 10% of their body weight. Those carrying the heaviest backpacks had a 50% higher risk of back pain (OR 1.50 CI 95% 1.06 to 2.12) and a 42% higher risk of back pathology, although this last result was not statistically significant (OR 1.42 CI 95% 0.86 to 2.32). Girls presented a higher risk of back pain compared with boys.

Conclusions Carrying backpacks increases the risk of back pain and possibly the risk of back pathology. The prevalence of school children carrying heavy backpacks is extremely high. Preventive and educational activities should be implemented in this age group.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Approval provided by the Burela Hospital Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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