23 July 2010
By Revathi Ramanan
Scientific Study Claims Children In 10–13 Age Group Are Most Prone To Deformity
All these years you had fears of that heavy school bag harming your child’s health. And now, a scientific study has confirmed them. Heavy backpacks, says the study published in the latest issue of Indian Paediatrics Journal, carried by children aged 10–13 years can cause disability.
The study conducted by the Movement Analysis Lab of Srinivas College of Physiotherapy and Research Centre in association with Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore on 200 school boys has found that bags weighing 5% of the body weight of the child can affect the trunk and lower limb angles and those bags weighing 15% of the body weight could change all angles pertaining to head, neck, trunk, and the lower limb, changing the overall posture of the child.
This means that a child weighing 30 kg could get affected if he carries a 2–kg bag, far lower than the average weight of a city school kid’s bag. “This is shocking,”says Shanthi R, mother of R Siddhanth, a Class VI student of Sri Sankara Senior Secondary School, Adyar. “My son carries a backpack which weighs about 5 kg.”Dr AK Venkatachalam, orthopaedic surgeon at Chettinad Health City and Hospital, agrees that heavy backpacks could cause disabilities in children. “The skeleton of the child is not fully grown and pressure on the vertebrae could lead to spine deformity and hunchback.”
Since last year, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has sent two circulars to schools asking them to reduce the weight of school bags. While some schools have replaced notebooks with loose papers which are later filed, the bags continue to be heavy. “We have introduced a filing system where children carry 40–page booklets which they file at the end of the year. We no longer have separate homework, class work and test notebooks,”says Shoba Raman, vice–principal of classes VI to X at Vidya Mandir, Mylapore.
Some matriculation schools have introduced ‘term books,’ where portions from different subjects for a term are bound into a book. “Our students don’t carry books for more than three subjects and leave a few books in the school,”says Rani Srinivasan principal of Shri Vasantben Chandubhai Shah Matriculation School in T Nagar. Other matriculation schools like St Michaels Academy in Adyar are planning to adopt Activity Based Learning (ABL) up to class VIII to reduce the burden on children.
Some parents, however, are sceptical about the study findings. “Though I agree that bags should be lighter, it is impractical to have a functional bag weighing just 5% of a child’s body weight. As a child, I carried much more and I don’t have a disability,”says Sangeetha R, a parent.
The study says...
- Bags weighing 5% of the body weight of the child could affect the trunk and lower limb angles
- Bags weighing 15% could change all angles pertaining to head, neck, trunk, and the lower limb, changing the overall posture of the child
- So, a child weighing 30 kg could get affected if he carries a 2–kg bag