Doctors Undertake Novel Study Using Lego

Lego Robin, Batman and Batwoman
It is well known that young children often swallow items not intended to be eaten, causing their parents some distress.

Some items, such as button batteries, magnets, sharp objects, or certain medications, can be harmful but the majority of items ingested by children do no harm. The most commonly ingested items by children are coins, followed by ‘small toy parts’.

Other items enjoyed by small children are marbles, jewellery – rings and earrings rather than gold bangles – and buttons. To allay the concerns of parents, a group of six doctors undertook a novel study to determine the typical transit times for a popular toy found in many households – the head of a Lego figurine.

The six paediatricians, from the UK and Australia, each swallowed a Lego mini-fig head at the same time of a morning and then timed how long it would take to pass. The researchers recorded their results and published it in a special Christmas edition of the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. The study included some humorous metrics including the Stool Hardness and Transit (SHAT) score and the Found and Retrieved Time (FART) score.

FART score results showed that on average the Lego head took an average of one to three days to pass. Interestingly the three female participants each passed their Lego head faster than the three males. One participant was not able to retrieve his Lego head. Using the SHAT score, the researchers determined that the plastic toy did not have an impact on the consistency of participants’ bowel motions.

None of the researchers experienced any symptoms but acknowledge that children’s bowels could react differently to adults. While the study aims to reassure the carers of children who swallow objects, their advice to parents is to seek medical attention if they are uncertain.

The researchers also caution readers not to try this experiment at home.