The results state that "no parent should be expected to search through their child's feces" for Legos. The same cannot be said about other objects.
History is witness to mind-boggling science experiments and thanks to those, we can live comfortably in the 21st century. But have you ever wondered what good can come out of swallowing pieces of Lego? As a toddler, Dr. Andy Tagg had once swallowed two pieces of Lego that were stuck together. Young kids are often known to put various objects inside their mouths because they are not capable of differentiating between edible and inedible items so, it's hardly surprising. “I thought, well, just put it in your mouth and try and get your teeth between the little pieces,” he told NPR.
However, no one expected Dr. Tagg to swallow Lego pieces again as an adult.
Dr. Tagg happens to be an emergency physician at Western Health, in Melbourne, Australia, and has encountered a lot of anxious parents with kids who impulsively swallow small objects. Most of the time the objects ingested by the kids pass out of their bodies through stool but Tagg still wanted to find a way to relieve the parents from their worries.
He wanted to assure the parents that they don’t need to hurry to the emergency room or dig through their kid’s poop to search for lost objects they possibly swallowed.
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
THIS is dedication to paediatrics - but it was worth it to advance science and paediatric emergency care.https://t.co/tZ4b9Yo8Kf pic.twitter.com/Nda7rqs7Zl
So Tagg teamed up with five other pediatricians to find a way to get the message out to every parent and take a scientific approach. The medical squad wanted to see how long it takes for a plastic toy to travel through their digestive system before it gets excreted. “Each of them swallowed a Lego head. They wanted to, basically, see how long it took to swallow and excrete a plastic toy,” reported Defector.
6 doctors swallowed Lego heads for science. Here's what came out “Sure, you can reassure parents one-by-one that they probably don't need to come to the emergency room—or, worse yet, dig through their kid's poop—in search of the everyday object.” https://t.co/QUQFPY3v1m— nprextra (@NPRextra) January 28, 2023
Science journalist Sabrina Imbler sat down with Short Wave Scientist in Residence Regina G. Barber in order to track the journey of the six Lego heads which were consumed by the doctors and what exactly came out of their bowels.
The rigorous study excluded three criteria such as previous gastrointestinal surgery, the inability to ingest foreign objects, and an aversion to searching through fecal matter. The research team then timed the gulped Lego heads as they passed down the doctors' bodies. The time interval was given a Found and Retrieved Time score and the term was hilariously shortened to FART.
One of Tagg’s objectives behind this odd experiment was to raise awareness about a few types of objects which can prove hazardous if ingested by kids. One of those hazardous objects is button batteries which are small round-shaped batteries often found inside electronic toys.
"Button batteries can actually burn through an esophagus in a couple of hours. So they're very, very dangerous—very different from swallowing a coin or a Lego head," Imbler said. By the end of the experiments, the results were published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health and it stated that “a toy object quickly passes through adult subjects with no complications. This will reassure parents and the authors advocate that no parent should be expected to search through their child's feces to prove object retrieval.”