By John Salak –
George Carlin was a master comedian and social commentator whose left-leaning insights on politics, society, relationships and parenting, among other topics, still resonate 15 years after his death. One classic bit centered on parents freaking over their kids swallowing various items or sticking JuJu Beans up their noses. Carlin, not surprisingly, announced that parents should chill, explaining that the process is all part of natural selection, leaving the smartest kids (those who refrain from taking in foreign objects) to survive.
Okay, perhaps for all his wisdom, Carlin was a little harsh. Parents don’t want their children swallowing various items or sticking marbles, stones, small toys, tiny batteries, coins, M&Ms or beans up their noses. It is dangerous, if not uncommon that results in thousands of young children being sent to emergency rooms yearly.
A lego part is one of the most common items young children ingest. While perhaps frightening, most of the time, these Lego pieces pass “harmlessly” through a child’s system and come out in a bowel movement.
Eating a Lego
Recently, however, some Australian doctors wanted to minimize the risk. Spurred on by Dr. Andy Tagg, who chugged a Lego part as a kid, they also wanted to determine just how long it takes for these pieces to go in one way and come out the other end. They even developed a measurement tool named Found and Retrieved Time (FART) to gauge the average time it takes for a Lego part to make its incredible voyage.
Tagg and the five other pediatricians accomplished this by going through the experience directly. They all swallowed a Lego head, waited to see if any symptoms appeared and then measured how long it took to pass them. It resulted in individual and group average FART scores.
“Each of them swallowed a Lego head. They wanted to see how long it took to swallow and excrete a plastic toy,” Sabrina Imbler, a journalist, explained in The Defector.
These dedicated physicians went as far as to search their stool daily to see when their particular swallowed Lego head resurfaced. This hands-on research project yielded no adverse effects and an average FART score of 1.71 days. The process may have yielded different results for men and women.
“There was some evidence that females may be more accomplished at searching through their stools than males, but this could not be statistically validated,” the research team noted in its report.
This study should give anxious parents some relief should their Johnny or Jill engage in swallowing a Lego piece or two. Tagg and his team, however, stressed that ingesting foreign objects is still dangerous and can require immediate medical attention even if the child isn’t choking on the items. Sharp plastic or metal objects can damage the throat, stomach lining and intestines.
Small button or disc batteries often used to power toys are also particularly dangerous. They can burn through an esophagus or stomach lining in hours, which makes them different than swallowing a coin or Lego head.
It is sound wisdom from some extremely dedicated doctors.