Paediatricians swallow Lego heads to determine how long they take to poop out

If you have kids, odds are they’ve swallowed something they shouldn’t have and you worried about how long it would for the problem to, erm, pass. Lucky for you, some apparently bored paediatricians have conducted a very scientific study using Lego heads. The answer: a couple of days, give or take.

Dr. Andrew Tagg of the University of Melbourne enlisted himself and recruited five colleagues for the experiment, “Everything is awesome: Don’t forget the lego.” The study — conducted with tongues firmly planted in cheek (not those cheeks) — required participants to swallow the head of a Lego figurine, then search their poop until the head turned up.

lego heads, the venture magazine

To get a baseline for their bathroom habits before the ingestion, the paediatricians — who, again, are all professional medical doctors — created a standardised Stool Hardness and Transit (SHAT) score. After swallowing the heads, the doctors used a variety of methods to gather further evidence.

“A variety of techniques were tried — using a bag and squashing, tongue depressors and gloves, chopsticks — no turd was left unturned,” Tagg said.

The study, which was actually published in a real scientific journal, noted that female participants appeared to be more diligent in their fact-finding than their male counterparts but that the sample size was not large enough to make a definitive statistical conclusion on that.

lego heads, the venture magazine


Once they located their quarry, the scientists calculated their Found and Retrieved Time (FART) scores. The average was 1.71 days. There was one outlier, however. One of the participants was unable to locate the Lego piece through two weeks of searching. It was unclear whether the head was still with the subject or if a lack of thorough inspection was the culprit.

“Who knows? Perhaps one day many years from now, a gastroenterologist performing a colonoscopy will find it staring back at him,” Tagg said.

While the study is full of toilet humor, the authors do hope to put parents of small children at ease and eliminate the need for them to search through nappies for harmless items.

“Although the majority of items children swallow pass through, some can be dangerous and parents should still be vigilant,” Tagg warned.

As if parents didn’t have enough crap to worry about.