Nation & World

Researchers swallow Lego heads, then fish them out of their poop. Because, science

This right here is what you call taking one for the team.

Six researchers from Australia and the United Kingdom swallowed yellow Lego heads and kept track of how long it took to poop out the little plastic buggers.

And right about now you’re probably asking yourself: Why?

The answer: To reassure parents that whenever their kids swallow most small things such as coins - or Lego figurine heads - this too shall pass.

“A toy object quickly passes through adult subjects with no complications,” the authors wrote in a paper published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.

“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.”

First, the researchers swallowed the Lego heads, a part of the experiment they filmed and posted in a YouTube video.

Then they waited, “meticulously checking their poop after every go-around to the porcelain throne,” wrote Gizmodo Australia.

University of Melbourne researcher Dr Andrew Tagg told The Australian Hospital Healthcare Bulletin that “a variety of techniques” were used to poke the poo - “using a bag and squashing, tongue depressors and gloves, chopsticks — no turd was left unturned.”

The researchers made up a “scoring” system - Stool Hardness and Transit (SHAT) and Found and Retrieved Time (FART).

“The Fart score – how many days it took the Lego to pass through the bowels – was between 1.1 days and three days, with an average of 1.7 days,” wrote the Guardian. “Using the Shat score, the researchers also found the consistency of their stools did not change.

“They compared Shat and Fart scores to see if looser stools caused quicker retrieval but found no correlation.”

In one interesting bowel moment, the study found “some evidence that females may be more accomplished at searching through their stools than males, but this could not be statistically validated.”

One unlucky researcher never found the Lego in his poop, “meaning they either just missed it or that the head might have gotten stuck somewhere along the gut, destined to come out at some other inopportune time or just languish in the body for years to come,” wrote Gizmodo.

That poor guy had to search each and every one of his stools for two weeks, one of the study’s participants, Grace Leo, told the Guardian. “I passed it on the first stool afterwards and was very relieved,” she said.

By now you might be thinking that some people have way too much fun at work, and you would be correct.

The pediatric journal this study appeared in has a tradition of publishing quirky research at Christmastime.

“Even within the academic paper itself — a format where colourful language goes to die — the authors went out of their way to have some fun,” Gizmodo noted.

Though she hopes the study will make people smile, Leo told the Guardian that parents still need to seek medical attention if their children swallow anything “sharp, longer than 5cm, wider than 2.5cm, magnets, coins, button batteries or are experiencing pain.”

“If it’s a small Lego head, you don’t need to go poking through their stool,” she told the British publication. “That should save parents some heartache, unless that Lego head is dearly loved.”