Old tales tell us chewing gum is not digested and stays in the stomach for up to seven years, but the truth is swallowing chewing gum is not harmful. It is true that the body does not digest or break down gum, however the gum does not stay in the stomach, and it doesn’t stick inside you like a piece of gum to the bottom of a desk. It will move through the digestive system and be eliminated in the stool. It is recommended children under the age of five not chew gum because they may not understand the difference between chewing and swallowing. Additionally, there is a risk for the child to choke and aspirate the gum (get the gum into the lungs) instead of swallowing it into the stomach. Some types of gum contain artificial sweeteners that can cause a loose stool if large amounts are chewed and swallowed.
If you discover your child has swallowed gum, do not panic. Inspect your child’s mouth to make sure there are no more pieces of gum remaining, and give the child some water to drink. If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions