Doctors eat Lego for digestion experiment

By | November 29, 2018

Researchers have swallowed pieces of Lego to see how long it takes them to pass through their digestive systems.

Despite the best efforts of parents, children are prone to swallowing small plastic toys – usually prompting a visit to the doctor.

Paediatricians are often asked how long it will take for the toys to pass out, because if they get stuck in the child’s digestive system it could lead to serious problems.

Therefore, a team of six paediatricians set up an experiment to see how long it would take for a Lego head to pass through their own digestive tracts.

LEGO heads are pictured on display during the official opening of the new LEGO store in Leicester Square, central London in November 17, 2016. Billed as the world's largest LEGO store by the company, the new UK flagship store was officially opened on November 17 in Leicester Square. / AFP / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Image: Six doctors have eaten Lego heads for an experiment

It would not have been acceptable to perform the experiment on children, said the doctors, whose findings have been published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Three women and three men working in paediatrics swallowed Lego heads and then sifted through their bowel movements until they found the toy.

The international team of researchers kept a diary regarding how firm their stools were too, as this could have had an impact on travel time.

In comic fashion, they ranked the softness of their stool samples on a scale they called the Stool Hardness and Transit (SHAT) scale.

They also measured how long it took for the Lego head to pass through to give themselves a Found and Retrieved Time (FART) score.

The doctors filmed themselves swallowing LEGO heads
Image: The doctors times how long it took for the toys to pass through

By the end of the experiment, the team found their FART scores varied between 1.14 and 3.04 days – with the average being 1.71 days for the toy to pass through their systems.

Unfortunately for one of the participants, the little Lego head was never discovered in his stool. The researchers admit they do not know if he simply missed it or if it has got stuck in his bowels.

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Although the team said it was unclear if the digestive findings would have proved equally true for toddlers, they are hoping to continue the work.

Ideally, they said that the study should have been conducted on a blind basis, although they suggested that the volunteers would have found it difficult to find someone else to look through their stool samples for them.

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