The bricks and square-shaped people of the LEGO toy universe have been bringing joy to adults and children alike for decades. Less pleasant: stepping on a LEGO brick, which results in remarkable pain, and emergency runs to the pediatrician when a kid happens to tear off a LEGO head and swallow it.
If you’ve ever wondered whether a LEGO head can get lodged in a loved one’s intestine, science now has an answer. Gizmodo recently reported on a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health that described the LEGO poop problems of six volunteers—all physicians and authors of the study—after intentionally swallowing a toy cranium. Then they sifted through the excrement to see when the disembodied head would make a reappearance.
The average elapsed time from ingestion to elimination was 1.71 days, with the head making a clear and uneventful exit in five of the six participants. One never found the head despite a thorough scan of his waste, but it’s possible he missed it. How you miss a rather large, orange chunk of plastic in your feces was not elaborated upon.
While the authors took time to add some levity to their LEGO poop problems—they dubbed the duration of time before finding the head the Find and Retrieval Time, or FART—the experiment was intended to demonstrate to parents that a swallowed LEGO head is not likely to result in complications and should pass without incident within a day or two. Owing to some degree of practicability, the authors also concluded that it’s not necessary to comb through your kid’s stool to confirm the object’s successful transit through the bowel.
That said, it’s never advisable to swallow foreign objects. While many LEGO heads were once manufactured with a hollow core to assist in breathing in case they became lodged in the throat, it’s best that children be cautioned against eating their toys.