DOWN THE HATCH
Doctors Swallowed LEGOS To Prove Everything Is Awesome For Kids Who Do The Same
They documented their findings with FART scores... really.
Kids love to swallow things that are not food. Things like LEGO heads, for instance, or any other small toy they can shove in their mouth because... well who knows why. Curiosity I suppose. The real question here is not about why kids do it necessarily but what happens to their bodies when they inevitably swallow a bunch of small toys. And six intrepid pediatricians have decided to take the bullet for science by swallowing LEGO heads themselves and documenting what happens to their bodies. Documenting poop for posterity. That’s dedication.
Dr. Andy Tagg and five other pediatricians at Western Health in Melbourne, Australia have seen many parents come to the emergency room after their little one swallowed a toy in an absolute panic. Dr. Tagg, who swallowed LEGO heads as a child himself, wanted to reassure parents that the majority of kids will just pass the toy in their stool as he did as a little boy. So he and his colleagues decided to just go ahead and swallow some LEGO heads and document what happened in the process and in their... findings, such as they were. They paid close attention to pre-ingestion bowel habits by developing a Stool Hardness and Transit (SHAT) score, and their results were documented under the Found and Retrieved Time (FART) score. I’m a bit worried they were having too much fun with this experiment.
Each of the LEGO heads was retrieved within 1.71 days, passing through an adult’s bowel system with no complications. It should be noted that the female pediatricians were “more accomplished at searching through their stools than males,” but with such a small case study this can’t be scientifically validated.
While swallowing a LEGO head is not ideal, the results of this study will hopefully put some parents at ease if their child happens to try it. That being said, Dr. Tagg warns that there are certain small objects that should absolutely raise red flags. Like those small button batteries that can so easily be swallowed, for instance. “Button batteries can actually burn through an esophagus in a couple of hours,” science journalist Sabrina Imbler told NPR. “So they're very, very dangerous—very different from swallowing a coin or a Lego head.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) observes that in the past two decades, reports of ingesting foreign objects have skyrocketed, though they note that this may just be a case of improved reporting. (AKA: parents in, say, 1985 were less likely to bring their kid to the ER for swallowing a penny than parents in 2015.) The AAP has more information on what to do if your child does indeed swallow a foreign object, but at least now you know that LEGO heads should realistically pass through their system.
Have fun looking for them.