Happy Monday after Thanksgiving, readers! We hope you enjoyed last week’s mashed potato- and casserole-focused articles, because today we’re turning our attention to a less savory subject: How long it takes the average person to shit a Lego. Read on, won’t you?
Six pediatric healthcare professionals recently conducted the Lego-eating study, to be published in the Journal Of Pediatrics And Child Health, that sought to determine how long it takes the head of a Lego figurine to pass through the human body. (This is entirely real.) The researchers are part of Don’t Forget The Bubbles, a pediatric news website founded by four doctors. As a team, they’d discussed their intent to conduct a scientific study that was “a little lighter” and settled on the topic of pooping Legos.
Their reasoning was that while studies have been conducted on how long it takes children to pass the coins they’ve eaten—a common object kids put in their mouths—there was scant research on whether small toys can pass safely through the human body.
So, the six doctors ate Lego heads and watched their toilet bowls: “A variety of techniques were tried–using a bag and squashing, tongue depressors and gloves, chopsticks–no turd was left unturned.” The participants’ baseline bowel habit was determined by a formula they dubbed the Stool Hardness and Transit (SHAT) score, while the time elapsed from Lego ingestion to discovery was calculated via the Found and Retrieved Time (FART) score.
Their results: It took, on average, 1.71 days for the body to pass a Lego head. By our calculations, that’s 41 hours and 3 minutes. (One Lego head was never recovered, which the doctors say proves you “really shouldn’t worry” if you can’t find a small accidentally ingested object.)
Before you cry that the small sample size renders these findings invalid—not to mention that the human body is not analogous to a child’s body—the researchers are already aware of this. “With such a small sample size it is important that you don’t extrapolate the data to the entire population of Lego swallowers,” they write. “It is also worth noting that most people who swallow Lego are children, not fully grown adults. Data that is applicable to the adult population may well not be applicable to children.”
If you’re interested in more rigorous investigations of ingested foreign bodies in children, the team suggests you peruse these two studies. In the meantime, the Don’t Forget The Bubbles team will enjoy its 15 minutes of Lego-pooping fame: “Whilst this may be the pinnacle of our publishing careers we hope we have not peaked too early.”