Doctors join wombats in sh!tting bricks to help parents relax about kids chowing down on Lego

Oh man, give them a medal for the FART and SHAT scores

Just a week ago we applauded efforts of boffins who figured out how wombats pinch off delightful little Oxo cube poos. Now it seems our squishy marsupial pals are in the esteemed company of the medical community, members of which have been wilfully gobbling (and passing) Lego pieces.

Why? Well, let's be charitable and describe parents as a neurotic bunch. Naturally, the thought of Junior swallowing a foreign object keeps the poor sods awake at night, and how unfortunate it is that so many children's toys come in such delectable bite-sized pieces.

Common Wombat in the Tasmanian scenery

Wombats literally sh!t bricks – and now boffins reckon they know how


In an attempt to allay these fears, a team of doctors from the UK and Australia, recognising that a lot of work has already been done on the mostly safe passing of coins by tots, turned their attention to the scourge of Lego.

"Six paediatric health‐care professionals were recruited to swallow a Lego head," the abstract read. "Previous gastrointestinal surgery, inability to ingest foreign objects and aversion to searching through faecal matter were all exclusion criteria."

Fair enough, but what's this? Science done with a cheeky wink and tongue in cheek? The nerve!

"Pre‐ingestion bowel habit was standardised by the Stool Hardness and Transit (SHAT) score. Participants ingested a Lego head, and the time taken for the object to be found in the participants stool was recorded. The primary outcome was the Found and Retrieved Time (FART) score."

That is some backronyming worthy of a seat on The Reg subs desk. The Chrimbo edition of The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, which published the study, traditionally includes goof-around research.

"The FART score averaged 1.71 days. There was some evidence that females may be more accomplished at searching through their stools than males, but this could not be statistically validated."

Good grief. Thankfully, UK national newspaper The Graun was on hand to take quotes about the "serious" sciencing. "I can't remember if it was pre or post-breakfast," report author Grace Leo told the paper. "But we all ingested our Lego between 7am and 9am in our own time zone, with a glass of water.

"For most people it was passed after one to three stools. But for poor [researcher Damien Roland], he didn't find his, so we made him search every stool for two weeks. I passed it on the first stool afterwards and was very relieved."

No participant experienced negative side effects of their plastic snacks, but the experiment came with a "do not try this at home" sticker. Unless you're three, of course.

The report accepted that children's digestive systems could react differently but there was "little evidence to support this".

The authors added: "If anything, it is likely that objects would pass faster in a more immature gut."

Concluding, Leo said: "Hopefully there is more conversation and awareness of foreign bodies, and a reassurance for parents that, for small foreign bodies, they aren't advised to search through the stool.

"If it's a small Lego head, you don't need to go poking through their stool. That should save parents some heartache, unless that Lego head is dearly loved."

These medics made it too easy on themselves. A Lego head is small with rounded edges facilitating smooth passage through the gut. Did they try to swallow a standard, four-nodule brick? Did they f*%k – because they'd probably die.

The dangers of Lego are well documented. Everyone knows that treading on one of the buggers barefoot hurts more than childbirth. The Register has devised its own formula to measure the degree of pain. Introducing BASTARD: Brick Anguish Served x Time / Acceptance - Resistance D'oh!. Please feel free to add your own tortured and profane scoring systems in the comments to help us with this noble work. ®


Oh yeah, and as for you, "The Guardian", The Register called and we want our headlines back.

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021