Backpack safety for kids

Backpacks are bad for a child's health if not used correctly.

When worn appropriately, backpacks are better than shoulder bags or purses.

The stomach and back muscles support the weight of the backpack and allow for even distribution across a child's body, said physical therapist Chris Wood of MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital.

Badly worn backpacks can result in numbness, tingling and pain, Wood said.

Here are some tips Wood and The American Academy of Pediatrics offer for kids who wear backpacks.

* Backpacks should be no more than 15 percent of a student’s body weight. If the loaded backpack forces the student to lean forward, it’s too heavy.

* Backpacks should placed evenly over shoulder blades and not hung over one shoulder.

* Backpacks should have loose straps. Tight, narrow straps that dig into the shoulders can interfere with circulation and nerve.

* Backpacks should made of a lightweight fabric, such as canvas, rather than heavier materials, such as leather.

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