How Long Does It Take to SHAT Out a LEGO?

You’re finally taking a break from wiping noses and backsides, perhaps having a cup of tea, when you feel it. The dreaded silence. Why is it so quiet? OMG he’s probably stuffing the toilet with matchbox cars or playing in the litter box, you think. It’s the universal warning sign that sends you rocketing from the couch and up the stairs to find out what your little darling is up to. It never fails that it is never anything good. In my kid’s case he’s usually in a corner snacking on a crayon that I thought I hid on a high shelf. But he steals them when my back is turned and hides them in some secret spot for later. I’m very familiar with how long it takes a crayon to travel through the digestive system. The results are unmistakable in the poop — rainbow-flecked with bright wax. It’s strangely cheerful.

But what do you do when your little weirdo has eaten something larger, like a LEGO? Luckily for us, there are intrepid researchers willing to swallow yellow LEGO heads and fish through their own excrement in order to answer that question for frantic parents everywhere. 

Bruce Y. Lee at Forbes reports that each participant kept a 3-day stool log, rating their bowel movements using a Stool Hardness and Transit (SHAT) score. A person with higher SHAT score had looser and more frequent bowel movements, meaning the smiling little piece of plastic may move through more quickly.

No, this is not The Onion. This was in Forbes. That’s right, people, there’s a SHAT score. And if you think this was accidental hilarity, wait till you hear about the FART score.

After swallowing the Lego noggin, each participant was responsible for analyzing their own poo to locate the object. According to the blog, “[a] variety of techniques were tried – using a bag and squashing, tongue depressors and gloves, chopsticks – no turd was left unturned.”

After retrieving the Lego head, the participants calculated their Found and Retrieved Time (FART) Score, or the number of days it took to pass the Lego. The research appears in The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Is it just me or do you picture the cast of “Real Genius” doing this experiment?

Whoever did it, the parents of the world are grateful that a swallowed LEGO head is simply a matter of waiting. Well… except for that one guy…

It turns out that for most of the participants, it took an average of 1.71 days for the Lego heads to travel through the digestive tract. There was also no apparent correlation between the SHAT and FART scores. But there was one concerning result: For one unfortunate subject, the Lego head never reappeared.

But no one seems too concerned for the poor sap who lost a LEGO in his colon somewhere. “Perhaps one day many years from now, a gastroenterologist performing a colonoscopy will find it staring back at him,” joked the team on their blog.

But then the real head-scratcher comes out as the researchers tell us that the results are no good in relation to kids because their insides aren’t the same size. So, they did this for fun. No really, they fished around in their own poop for “fun.”

But as they write on their blog, the team cautions that the study was really just a bit of fun before the holidays and that it does not apply to children who swallow bits of toys.

This proves that science nerds are operating on a totally different plane from the rest of us. We can now close the book on why the scientifically gifted have trouble dating.