It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
For generations, parents have told their children never to swallow chewing gum, lest it sit undigested for days, weeks or even years.
This is, for the most part, an old wives’ tale. Swallowed chewing gum typically passes through the digestive tract without harm and is eliminated at the same rate as other foods.
The medical literature contains several case reports of people, mostly small children, who developed intestinal obstructions because they had a habit of swallowing their gum. A 1998 study in the journal Pediatrics, for example, described three children who came to a clinic with intestinal pain, constipation and other symptoms, and were found to have small masses of chewing gum in their guts. One was a 4-year-old boy who “always swallowed his gum after chewing five to seven pieces each day.” Another was a 4-year-old girl.
Three other studies, including one in The American Journal of Diseases of Children, describe similar cases. In most, the young patients were fine after removal of the obstructions. The phenomenon is rare, the studies noted. But they might also serve as a cautionary tale for the parents of small children, particularly those with a strong fondness for gum.