Three-month-old Rahul, who is admitted in the Kilpauk Medical College Hospital (KMCH) in Chennia with 10 degree burn injuries because of a condition called spontaneous human combustion (SHC), is stable, doctors said Saturday.
Doctors say that in SHC, burns are caused as the body catches fire because of the excretion of gases.
“The mother told us that the baby has suffered four episodes of such spontaneous fire and suffered burn injuries. The last episode was a month back. The baby was admitted to the Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) (in Puducherry),” R. Jayachandran a professor in the department of pediatrics at KMC said.
Appalling. There is NO SUCH THING as spontaneous combustion, from gases or otherwise. There is zero mention in this piece of potential abuse by family (parents or sibling). This is a horrible story to read. By publicizing it, all we can do is hope that there are connections to the hospital to get this properly addressed and to make the public aware that people do not catch on fire without an external source.
The mother claims there was no source of ignition. Other media outlets are just as credulous, using the same unskeptical view.
UPDATE: (15-Aug-2013) Tests come back normal. Of course they do. There is no condition where emitted gases cause people to burst into flames. At least FINALLY (it took days, it seems) there is some skepticism creeping into the reports and hints that this is child neglect or abuse. Unfortunately, there are still credulous mentions to SHC that give the mistaken impression that this is plausible.
Incidentally, the baby’s mother hails from Nedumozhiyanur which was in the news in 2004 after residents there complained their houses spontaneously burst into flames.
Investigations revealed phosphorus stuffed in wet cow dung had been placed in the huts. When the dung dried up, phosphorus, which has a low ignition point, lit up, setting the huts on fire. Enmity between two groups had led to one party resorting to such acts to harm their rivals. At the time, there were also reports of animals going up in flames and it was found phosphorus had been rubbed on the animals too, causing them to go up in flames.