ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- When your kids get home from school today, you might want to take a closer look at their backpack. Chances are it weighs more than it should! Doctors at St. Louis Children's Hospital say that's taking a toll on too many kids.

Heavy Backpack

Spine specialists at Children's used a high tech machine called Noraxon to demonstrate how a student's posture changes when they are carrying a heavy backpack.

"She's got to make postural adjustments in order to try to maintain herself upright so it doesn't pull her over," they explained about second grader Bella, who was helping with the demonstration.

That can lead to back pain.

"Back pain is something that's extraordinarily common across the board and it's common in kids just like it is in adults. Thirty-to-40 percent of kids in a given year are going to experience back pain," said Dr. Brian Kelly, a Washington University orthopedic surgeon at St. Louis Children’s Hospital who focuses on spine surgery.

Now, he is sharing advice that can help students avoid that pain.

"Don't load the backpack with more than 10 to 15 percent of the child’s body weight and the best way to wear it is with nice wide straps over both shoulders, backpack close to the back, not slung low," said Dr. Kelly.

He also explained the issue is not only about how much weight is in the backpack, but also about how it is packed. He recommends putting the heaviest items at the back of the bag, and at the very bottom.

Dr. Kelly says the pain should go away when a child takes off a heavy backpack. If it doesn't, or a child wakes up at night with back pain, then it's time to see a doctor.

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