Kids swallow pretty much everything, and if they can get their hands on something, it’s at risk for being ingested. Legos are a toy that’s easy to swallow, and a group of researchers in the U.K. decided to do an experiment to find out what happens when you do swallow a Lego figurine head.
The pediatricians used themselves as guinea pigs and published the results in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. For the study — which they clearly had fun with — each pediatrician swallowed a Lego head. The individuals took pre-study measurements of their bowel habits, which they called the Stool Hardness and Transit (SHAT) score. Each pediatrician then ingested a Lego and waited to see when it would come back out. That was measured with the Found and Retrieved Time (FART) score.
This involved some careful checking of their poop every day. The researchers found that, on average, the time to pass the Lego head was 1.71 days. No one had any complications during the study, although one person never found his Lego head. “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,” the study authors wrote.
This is actually pretty standard advice when it comes to kids swallowing small, blunt objects, Charles Shubin, a board-certified pediatrician with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. However, you do want to closely monitor your children if you notice one downed a Lego, coin or anything else swallowable that, again, isn’t sharp. “First, you’re worried about a foreign body stuck in the airway,” Shubin says. “You will know — they will choke and stutter. That’s when you call 911.”
If your child doesn’t seem to be bothered by what was just swallowed, you’re probably OK to just wait and watch. “At this point, you can relax because Legos are not sharp, pointy objects, and they’re unlikely to obstruct their GI tract,” Shubin says. When the object makes it through your child’s stomach (which it should), it will pass through and come out in their poop, Shubin says.
If you’re concerned, call your child’s pediatrician, who will likely recommend that you just watch and wait, Shubin says. “Legos will not show up on X-ray and they should keep moving, so there’s not much you can do,” he says.
However, if your child starts to develop gastrointestinal discomfort like stomach pains and has trouble defecating, you’ll want to take the child to the doctor and mention that the kid recently swallowed a Lego. Doctors will usually then have the child swallow barium to see if they can spot any blockages on an X-ray.
If the Lego is in the upper GI tract, a doctor will likely put a tube down your child’s throat to try to retrieve it. “If it’s stuck in the stomach, that’s an easy one,” Shubin says. And, if the Lego is stuck in the colon, your child will need to undergo a colonoscopy to have it removed.
Overall, prevention is key — although these things happen. “Don’t trust the kids,” Shubin says. “You can’t take your eyes off of them for a second.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Women actually earn 49 cents for every man’s dollar — why the gender pay gap is worse than it seems
- WWE star Kairi Sane has hand-foot-and-mouth disease — here’s what that means
- Doctor says tear gas used at the border can cause permanent skin burns and breathing trouble in kids: ‘It is absolutely horrific’