November 28, 2018

If a LEGO is Swallowed, How Long Does it Take to be Pooped Out?

This is one of those published research papers I had to wonder if it was for real or not... but it appears to be genuine in spite of the jocular tone of the article. Published in the Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health, researchers swallowed small LEGO pieces and then monitored bowel movements to determine how long it took before it got pooped out.

The general point of the study being that children often swallow toy objects and as long as it doesn't get stuck in the throat (and lacks a sharp point), it WILL pass through. Parents should not worry as nothing bad will happen. Apparently a LEGO figurine head is commonly swallowed by children and was the object that researchers (6 pediatricians) swallowed themselves for this study.

What almost certainly was tongue-in-cheek, the researchers recorded two main measures including the SHAT and FART scores.

Pre‐ingestion bowel habit was standardised by the Stool Hardness And Transit (SHAT) score.

Time taken for the object to be found in the participants' stool was then recorded. The primary outcome was the Found And Retrieved Time (FART) score.

The main study result that parents would be interested in was the FART score of 1.7 days.

Take home message being, don't worry if a child swallows a solid toy object like a LEGO piece. As long as child is without symptoms, it will pass (undigested) without any sequelae.

Reference:
Everything is awesome: Don't forget the Lego. 22 November 2018. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpc.14309
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. He is also the chief medical officer of O2Labz, a medical and scientific 3D animation company.Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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