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Research Volunteers Swallow Lego Heads To Find Out How Long It Takes To Pass

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Small toy parts are the second most commonly swallowed foreign objects. They are just one of the things that children swallow, with some such as small batteries being particularly hazardous.   ( Pixabay )

Researchers find the amount of time it takes for a Lego head to pass through the body thanks to some brave volunteers. As it turns out, parents need not worry because Lego heads should turn up in feces just a few days after.

Accidental Ingestion

In the new study titled “Everything Is Awesome: Don’t Forget The LEGOs,” a team of pediatricians wanted to find out how long it would take for a Lego head to pass through the system. This is because among the many foreign objects that children place in their mouths and accidentally swallow, small toy parts are the second most commonly swallowed items.

To find out, researchers enlisted six adult volunteers who were pooled from an online community of pediatric health professionals. Anyone who has had gastrointestinal surgery, has problems swallowing objects, or has an “aversion to searching through fecal matter” was screened out.

SHAT And FART Scores

All six volunteers swallowed a Lego head and kept a “stool diary” for before and after swallowing the Lego head where they documented the frequency as well as the looseness of their stool based on the Stool Hardness and Transit score (SHAT). After swallowing the Lego head, each volunteer had to sift through their own fecal matter to determine if the toy had already passed. The time it took before the Lego head was retrieved was dubbed as FART or Found and Retrieved Time.

As it turns out, parents who are worried because their child swallowed a Lego head need not worry too much because five of the volunteers’ FART scores ranged from 1.14 days to 3.04 days, with an average of 1.71 days or 41 hours.

That said, researchers noted that this is a small study that focused on adults instead of toddlers, and that small toys with different shapes might take different amounts of time to pass. Furthermore, one of the volunteers never even retrieved the Lego head at all.

The study is published in the Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health.

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