Some babies have colic. Most suffer through teething. But a combustible baby in India has gone up in flames four times in his short life, thanks to an extremely rare condition that has sent the infant to a hospital with severe burns.
So volatile is the child’s condition that authorities at the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit have placed a bucket of water and a fire extinguisher near the baby’s bed, The Hindu reported
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Doctors told The Hindu that the condition, known as spontaneous human combustion, is real and is caused by the excretion of gasses.
“It has been scientifically documented that concentrated combustion air excreted from the body could result in such episodes,” said Dr. R. Narayana Babu, head of pediatrics at Kilpauk Medical College Hospital. “In elderly persons, heavy drinking could lead to the body excreting [an] alcohol-like substance which could get ignited.”
The 3-month-old child named Rahul first burst into flames nine days after his mother, identified only as Rajeswari, gave birth.
“People thought I set him on fire deliberately,” the woman, who hails from Nedimoliyur, told the newspaper.
Rahul is recovering. “The baby is stable and treatment is on for burn injuries and scars. Life-saving support systems are there for Rahul in the intensive care unit,” Babu told India Today.
He said the infant will remain under observation, but could be discharged in a few weeks. Several questions remain, however.
“We have only the mother’s version,” R. Jayachandran, a professor in the department of pediatrics at Kilpauk Medical College, told India Today. “The baby has to be carefully observed. We have to investigate whether this ailment is genetic. We will carry out tests to find out the kind of gasses generated by the baby.”
According to Wikipedia, there have been about 200 cases of spontaneous human combustion over 300 years leading to 1995. One of the more frightening cases occurred in South Wales when a 73-year-old man named Henry Thomas suddenly caught fire and was incinerated while sitting in his easy chair. All that was left of the victim were his legs below the knee and his skull.
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