Explaining the bizarre phenomenon of a baby Rahul catching fire spontanously, Dr Narayana Babu, Professor and Head of Paediatrics, Kilpauk Medical College, where the infant has been admitted, told Express that the burns were caused by fire ignited by combustible substances emitted from the body of the child.
The doctor said that the fluids were escaping the body without breaking down to non-combustible forms, due to an unknown mechanism.
He said about 200 such cases had been reported in the past three centuries. Asked about the survival chances of the child, he maintained that only caution could save Rahul as there were reports of people who had died of this syndrome in their seventies and sixties around the world.
“The baby should be kept in a cool and aerated space and should always be kept away from inflammatory articles and never be exposed to the hot sun for long. Further, the infant should also be clothed with fire-proof attire. However, he also pointed out that there was a risk of the fire burning within the body. “We have specialists in skin, kidney, and burns departments monitoring the baby, besides a dedicated team of doctors monitoring his progress round the clock,” he said.
Another doctor from the KMC burns ward, however, claimed that no human tissue could ignite on its own.
KMC Dean Dr P Ramakrishnan told Express they have not arrived at any conclusion but are observing the child to study how the fire was caused. Hospital sources said that the forensic study carried out on Rahul could not find any combustible gas leading to the fire on the body.
Sources added that there were only scars of burns which had occured at least a month ago on the baby as against the claims of the parents. The report also observed that the burn scars could be found only on the anterior portion of the body and that there was no recent burns. It added that, if need be, skin could also be grafted over the wound.
Visibly upset, the father of the child, Karnan, said his family was worried as villagers were afraid of the child, believing the infant was being haunted by an evil force that triggers the fire.
Further investigation of the case was on at the hospital.