Rahul, a three-month-old baby from Chennai in southern India, was admitted to a local medical institute yesterday with burns covering 10% of his body. Doctors there believe the burns were caused from a condition known as spontaneous human combustion (SHD). According to the baby’s mother, the child burst into flames without any source nine days after his birth and suffered three other similar episodes, the last of which occurred about a month ago. The doctors believe the baby’s body may have caught on fire because of the excretion of gases, likely methane gas formed during digestion of the baby’s food.
The baby’s father told Deccan Herald reporters that “neighbors started isolating the family after observing Rahul. Everybody thought it was due to evil influence.” Naturally, others suspect the family may have purposely burnt the baby in a horrific act of child abuse.
The baby has been admitted to the Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) for further observation and investigation. The child is stable and is being treated for burn injuries and scars. According to R. Jayachandran, a pediatric professor at the institute:
“The baby has to be carefully observed. We have to investigate whether the ailment is genetic. We will carry out tests to find out the kind of gases are generated by the baby. Research is going on to find an accurate treatment for this disease.”
Whether or not the injuries were caused by Spontaneous Human Combustion, or a shocking case of child abuse are expected to be answered by late next week.