Kids eat the darndest things. Dead flies, half-sucked candy found on the ground, erasers... and one of the most popular items, besides coins, are small toy parts. But once swallowed, do these toys always find their way out? And if so, how long does the journey take?
These burning questions inspired a team of pediatrics workers to conduct a study, which was just published in The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. They got six adventurous volunteers to dine on Lego heads, and then poke around after each potty run until they spotted the bright plastic pieces in their poop. Fun times.
The researchers constructed the study with a sense of humor, using a Stool and Hardness Score (SHAT) and Found and Retrieved Time (FART) score. According to Forbes:
Before they swallowed the Lego heads, each participant had to keep a 3‐day stool diary, which could be quite disconcerting if confused with a regular diary. The researchers developed a Stool Hardness and Transit (SHAT) score to measure the frequency and looseness of their stool. A higher SHAT score meant that the participant had more frequent and looser bowel movements, which could affect how fast the Lego head was you-know-what out of the person. Each patient has a pre-SHAT score, calculated for the 3-day period before the Lego head meal, and a SHAT score for the time between the ingestion and the pooping out of the Lego head. Thus, each participant was given 2 SHATs.
After the Lego head was swallowed, the next step was to keep track of the subsequent bowel movements and keep looking for the Lego head. The authors wrote that the "search was conducted on an individual basis, and search technique was decided by the participant." In other words, each participant had to dig through his or her own poop. The researchers then tabulated what they described as the Found and Retrieved Time (FART) score. The FART score was just the number of days it took to pass and retrieve the Lego Head, but who can pass up the opportunity to say the word FART?
And the end result? The bottom line is that Lego heads take 1-3 days to pass through our bodies — at least for adults. The study was extremely small and limited, but, according to Forbes, "does offer some reassurance to parents and anyone who needs a Lego head to complete a body that such a small toy part will be pooped out without complications, typically in 1 to 3 days."
We've finally answered the burning question - how long does it take for an ingested lego head to pass?
— Tessa Davis (@TessaRDavis) November 23, 2018