UK pediatricians have finally responded to one of life's great riddles: how long would it take for a Lego toy to be accidentally swallowed by someone to make its way back?
The answer comes courtesy of a recent study published last week in The Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health. The six authors of the study offered to ingest the head of a typical Lego figure (and even made a video showing their moment of truth). So they just waited for the inevitable, meticulously checking their poop after every trip to the porcelain throne. Several methods of searching and retrieving were used, from putting the poop in a bag and squeezing the contents in the hope of finding a piece of Lego-shaped plastic to sift poop with chopsticks.
On average, the authors reported that it took 1.71 days for Lego Poop to finally emerge, at least for those who actually found it. One of the doctors has never seen his toy, which means that either is lost or that the head may have been trapped somewhere along the intestine, destined to come off at some other inappropriate time or just languish in the body for years on end.
Even with the possible solitary, the authors say, your research should calm parents concerned about the dangers of their child swallowing a small toy.
"A toy object passes quickly through uncomplicated adult subjects," they wrote. "This will reassure parents, and the authors argue that no parent should look in their children's feces to prove recovery of objects."
That being said, the study should not be taken too seriously.
The authors' research was prompted by their collaboration in Do not forget the bubbles, a blog network of pediatricians and other physicians who write on topics such as neonatal jaundice and childhood vaccines. In a blog post discussing the attention the study obtained, the authors conceded that the little experiment was not to be a difficult science, just a bit of fun in the run for Christmas.
On the one hand, given the small sample size, the specific number of 1.71 days estimated to pass a Lego may not be generalizable to the public. And this is especially true for children, since their innards are definitely different (shorter) than the average adult.
Even within the academic work itself – a format in which color language will die – the authors strove to have fun. To record their bowel habits prior to ingestion, they created the hardness and stool transit score (SHAT). And then, they recorded the amount of time it took to pass their feces through the score made by FART itself (Found and Recovered).
Even so, even though they escaped unscathed from their experience with nothing more than a positive buzz in the media, the authors hope that others will not follow in their footsteps. At the end of their blog post, there is a warning: "Please do not try to do this at home."
[The Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health via Don’t Forget The Bubbles]