Burning baby case: skin biopsy today at KMC

The three-month-old was brought in last week. All tests on him have returned normal results so far

Updated - November 16, 2021 09:25 pm IST

Published - August 14, 2013 09:07 am IST - CHENNAI:

A skin biopsy will be performed on three-month-old Rahul on Wednesday.

The baby boy is being treated for burn injuries at the Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital (KMC).

Paediatricians said the test may provide some clues as to the boy’s condition, which has apparently led to spontaneous combustion.

Rahul, born to daily wage workers Rajeswari and Karna of a village in Villupuram, was admitted to KMC last Thursday.

His parents said that the baby had gone up in flames four times since his birth.

Rahul was brought to Chennai and initially referred to a private hospital.

The doctor who first examined the boy said all possible avenues for abuse must be ruled out before concluding that Rahul had a condition called spontaneous human combustion (SHC).

Since the child is still being treated for scars from burns at KMC, doctors said they would defer a diagnosis till they had evidence.

R. Narayana Babu, head of paediatrics at KMC, said on all four occasions the baby’s admission was entered into the respective hospital’s accident register as a medico-legal case, as it was an unusual event.

“Every time the boy was admitted, he has been registered as a medico-legal case. We are going by the history provided by the mother, his grandmother and his father. They have consistently held that the flames emanated from the baby,” Dr. Babu said.

The baby’s back has been spared from SHC because babies do not turn over until they are several months old. “As there was no oxygen for combustion, the back did not burn,” he said.

Rahul has undergone a neurosonogram, an ultrasonogram and a full body x-ray. “There are no broken bones and his vital organs are not damaged. We have sent his blood, urine and sweat for screening for metabolic activity, to determine the ketone levels of blood, toxic components in sweat, chromosomal analysis and a study of his genes. Some of these tests are very advanced,” he said.

The hospital has also sought a psychiatric evaluation of the parents and the grandparent who accompanied the baby.

“We are doing all this to rule out the possibility of abuse. The baby has been with us for six days. We are now treating only the injuries but a clinching diagnosis will be made only if one of our medical persons witnesses flames emanating from the baby,” he added.

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