Science Now Knows How Long It Takes to Poop Out a Swallowed LEGO Head

iStock.com/Ekaterina79
iStock.com/Ekaterina79

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.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Chronic Pain Happens Differently in Men and Women

iStock.com/PeopleImages
iStock.com/PeopleImages

Women often feel colder than men due to physical differences. Now, a new study shows that the two sexes have different biological processes underlying a specific kind of pain, too. As WIRED reports, research published in the journal Brain revealed that different cells and proteins were activated in men and women with neuropathic pain—a condition that is often chronic, with symptoms including a burning or shooting sensation. While scientists say further research is needed, these findings could potentially change the way we treat conditions involving chronic pain.

A team of Texas-based neurologists and neuroscientists looked for RNA expressions in the sensory neurons of spinal tumors that had been removed from eight women and 18 men. Some of the patients had pain as a result of nerve compression, while others had not experienced any chronic pain. While studying the neurons of women with pain, researchers noticed that protein-like molecules called neuropeptides, which modulate neurons, were highly activated. For the men, immune system cells called macrophages were most active.

"This represents the first direct human evidence that pain seems to be as sex-dependent in its underlying biology in humans as we have been suggesting for a while now, based on experiments in mice," Jeffrey Mogil, a professor of pain studies at Montreal's McGill University, who was not involved in the Brain study, tells WIRED.

So what exactly do these new findings mean for sufferers of chronic pain? Considering that clinical trials and drug manufacturers have traditionally failed to distinguish between the sexes when it comes to developing pain medication, the study could potentially form a foundation for sex-specific pain therapies that could prove more effective. This might be especially promising for women, who are more likely to have some condition that cause persistent pain, such as migraines or fibromyalgia.

"I think that 10 years from now, when I look back at how papers I've published have had an impact, this one will stick out," Dr. Ted Price, a neuroscience professor and one of the paper's authors, said in a statement. "I hope by then that we are designing clinical trials better considering sex as a biological variable, and that we understand how chronic pain is driven differently in men and women."

[h/t WIRED]

McDonald’s Is Testing Out Vegan McNuggets in Norway

McDonald's has never been an especially welcoming place for vegans (until 1990, even the fries contained meat). But now, the chain's Norwegian locations are working to change that. As Today reports, McDonald's restaurants in Norway have launched a vegan nugget alternative to the classic chicken McNugget.

The new vegan McNuggets are prepared to look like the menu item customers are familiar with. They're coated with a layer of breadcrumbs and fried until they're golden-brown and crispy. Instead of chicken meat, the nugget is filled with plant-based ingredients, including mashed potatoes, chickpeas, onions, corn, and carrots.

The vegan McNuggets are only available to customers in Norway for now, but if they're popular, they may spread to McDonald's in other parts of the world. Norway's McDonald's locations also include a Vegetarian McFeast burger on its menu.

McDonald's is famous for tailoring its menus to international markets, and vegetarian options are much easier to find in restaurants some parts of the world compared to others. In India, where one fifth of the population is vegetarian, customers can order the McAloo Tikki Burger, made from potatoes and peas, or a McVeggie sandwich.

[h/t Today]

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