Backpacks increase risk for disease, doctors say

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As kids head back to school, it's important to understand how the weight of their backpacks could be dangerous – and we're talking way more than just neck and back pain. Did you know they also increase children's risk for disease?

"We've been in practice for 21 years and we've seen a steady incline in sick kids," Erb Family Wellness chiropractor Dr. David Erb says.

Dr. David and his wife, Dr. Kimberly Erb, say the heavy backpacks are causing breathing problems, allergies, and even asthma in children. "If you look at the nerves in the upper back and neck -- if you go down to where the neck meets the upper back -- those nerves go directly into the lungs," he says.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average 6th grader's backpack weights 18.4 pounds when, in reality, it should weigh no more than 10% of the child's body weight.

Poor posture affects every single nerve running down the spine, which can eventually lead to nerve damage and affect the child's overall health.

"If you have a head-forward posture, you start pinching and stretching those nerves that come out of the spine that really where you are actually causing damage to the lung and that's why we're seeing a lot of those symptoms. Kids having trouble breathing and allergy-like symptoms," Dr. Kimberly says.

And Dr. David says lightening up those backpack loads is a great preventative measure. "We want to find things before they are real issues. And backpacks are a simple way to get ahead of the curve on taking care of issues before become a diagnosis," he says.

Dr. David and Dr. Kimberly shared tips for lowering the weight of backpacks – they suggest rolling backpacks or carrying the heaviest items closest to your back, to prevent spine curvature.

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