Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

Swallowing Gum


WebMD the Magazine - Feature

Q: My 7-year-old son likes to swallow his bubblegum. I’ve heard that it will stay in his stomach forever. True?

A: This old wives’ tale is very popular on the playground, but it’s definitely FALSE.

Recommended Related to Children

General Information About Unusual Cancers of Childhood

Unusual cancers of childhood are cancers rarely seen in children. Cancer in children and teenagers is rare. Since 1975, the number of new cases of childhood cancer has slowly increased. Since 1975, the number of deaths from childhood cancer has decreased by more than half. Unusual cancers are so rare that most children's hospitals might see less than a handful of some types in several years. Because the unusual cancers are so rare, there is not a lot of information about what treatment works best...

Read the General Information About Unusual Cancers of Childhood article > >

"It is true that most of the components of bubblegum are not found in nature," says Robynne Chutkan, MD, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at Georgetown University. "And as such we don’t have the enzymes to break them down. But eventually gum does get through the intestine and into the colon, where it is mixed with stool and then excreted."

How long is "eventually?" According to Chutkan, gum -- like kernels of corn -- may come out one day, two days, or even three days after being swallowed, but the time lapse is fairly quick: "It’s always within days, not weeks and certainly not years."

Chewing gum has greater dangers: It can cause a young child to choke; the sugar can promote tooth decay; and no one knows exactly how the chemicals in such processed foods affect the body in the long term. "In general, the less exposure you have to artificial ingredients, the better," Chutkan says. "Our bodies just weren’t made to digest them."

 

 

Reviewed on September 01, 2008

Today on WebMD

preschool age girl sitting at desk
Article
look at my hand
Slideshow
 
woman with cleaning products
Slideshow
young boy with fever
Article
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

WebMD Special Sections