Tuesday, 13 August 2013


SHC or child abuse?

A three-month-old baby boy is recovering in hospital after allegedly spontaneously catching fire - for the fourth time.

Rahul, was admitted for treatment of ten degree burns at an intensive care unit in Chennai, India last week, and doctors at the hospital say he suffers from 'spontaneous human combustion'.
Medical staff alleges that - for the fourth time in his short life - Rahul has burst into flames with no external source of ignition.

According to doctors Rahul may have caught fire due to the excretion of gases through his skin, which has led to him suffering burns on his chest and head.
‘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,’ said R. Narayana Babu, head of paediatrics at the hospital.

He told IBN Live that the baby will be under observation and may be discharged after two weeks depending on his condition.
Rahul, from Villupuram, an area 100miles from Chennai, suffered the first incident when he was just nine days old.

‘People thought I set him on fire deliberately,’ his mother, Rajeswari told IBN Live.
According to the parents, their community ostracized them, and Rahul’s father, a farm worker, says they have lost everything as a result of his son's condition.

Rajeswari alleges that Rahul has suffered four episodes of  spontaneous fire and suffered burn injuries, the last incident taking place last month.
However, doctors at Kilpauk Medical College Hospital in Chennai treating Rahul say they only have the mother's version of events to go on as the baby boy does not have any medical records.

Mother (right) alleges this is the fourth
time her baby has combusted.
'The baby has to be carefully observed. We have to investigate whether the ailment is genetic,' Prof. R. Jayachandran of the department of paediatrics at Kilpauk Medical College Hospital said.

'We will carry out tests to find out the kind of gases generated by the baby’.'
Not all believe the mother's story of self-combustion.

'Spontaneous Human Combustion-syndrome is a hoax theory,' the hospital's burns specialist Dr J Jagan Mohan told The Times of India.
'A baby catching fire spontaneously is not possible.
'Alcoholics have a very small percentage of alcohol secreted in their sweat but even that wouldn't generate a fire.'

Until a proper diagnosis is made, Rahul is given treatment that is only symptomatic, with the administration of antibiotics.

Source: DailyMail

FURTHER READING: Man Spontaneously combusts in Oklahoma home.

My view:

I have never heard of spontaneous human combustion in babies, although there is strong evidence from across the world to support the theory of SHC.
Without knowing further background facts on this incident it is too difficult to speculate that this is such a genuine case.
While I share the scepticism of Dr J Jagan Mohan, I vehemently disagree that SHC is, `a hoax theory`.
It is a pity that he doesn`t research further on this phenomenon.

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