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Lighten school backpacks or risk tripping

Chicago, Jan. 5 (Reuters): Schoolchildren who lug around heavy backpacks are more likely to get hurt tripping over them than suffer back strains from carrying them, researchers have said.

Most backpack-linked injuries are cuts and sprains from tripping over or getting hit by one, or gouging a hand while reaching inside, they said in a report published in the journal Pediatrics.

Heavily publicised warnings to lighten schoolchildren’s backpacks would eliminate fewer than one quarter of pack-related injuries, the report said. Teaching children to put packs out of harm’s way and not swing them like a mace would pay bigger safety dividends, it said.

The researchers examined hundreds of cases and found 89 per cent of such injuries were to body parts other than the back.

Strained backs were the sixth most common type of backpack-related injury, after injuries to the head or face, hands, wrist or elbow, shoulder, and foot or ankle.

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