NCBI ROFL: A moment on your lips, forever in your intestine.

By ncbi rofl | September 15, 2009 3:00 pm

Chewing gum bezoars of the gastrointestinal tract.

“Children have chewed gum since the Stone Age. Black lumps of prehistoric tar with human tooth impressions have been found in Northern Europe dating from approximately 7000 BC (Middle Stone Age) to 2000 BC (Bronze Age). The bite impressions suggest that most chewers were between 6 and 15 years of age. The Greeks chewed resin from the mastic tree (mastic gum). North American Indians chewed spruce gum… Despite the history and prevalence of gum chewing, the medical literature contains very little information about the adverse effects of chewing gum. In the present report, we briefly review gum-chewing complications and describe three children who developed intestinal tract and esophageal obstruction as a consequence of swallowing gum.”

  • Dhivajri

    Now THAT I want to see a photo of.

  • Anonymous

    From constant swallowing or just once?

  • Steve

    Case #1 from the article: "A boy, 4-1/2 years of age, was referred with a 2-year history of constipation…Candy, especially chewing gum, was given as a reward for successful toileting…the child was brought in for manual disimpaction under conscious sedation and rectal suction biopsy. On removal of the leading edge of the fecoma, a "taffy-like" trail of fecal material remained in the rectum. This mass was eventually manually withdrawn and was primarily made up of chewing gum. On further history, this boy always swallowed his gum after chewing five to seven pieces of gum each day…"

  • Steve

    Case #2 from the article: "A 4-1/4-year-old girl was referred…the fecal mass was unmistakably chewing gum, because it contained multiple spheres of chewed gum congealed into a multicolored rectal mass. Dislodging the mass revealed the taffy-pull sign…After the disimpaction, the family reported that chewing gum was part of a positive reinforcement system used on many occasions each day. The child had the habit of swallowing gum, often just to get another piece."


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

About ncbi rofl

NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


See More

Collapse bottom bar