Rumor: Baby suffers from spontaneous combustion

Is a baby in India suffering from a rare condition called Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC), causing him to burst into flames sporadically?

UNCONFIRMED: Though science doesn’t support the idea of humans bursting into flames

A three-month-old boy named Rahul from Tamil Nadu, India has made international news for being hospitalized after apparently becoming engulfed in flames with no outside provocation.  

The Daily News and International Business Times reported on the event as an example of Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC), a reported condition in which someone catches fire due to flammable substances excreting from the body. His most recent hospitalization is apparently the fourth time Rahul has suffered from SHC.

Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital, where Rahul is being treated and studied, seems to be corroborating the SHC conclusion. "The body burns spontaneously due to combustible gases emitting from the patient’s body, without any external source of ignition," said Dr. R. Narayana Babu, the head of pediatrics in Kilpauk, to the Deccan Chronicle. "Clothes and other things nearby that are inflammable may also catch fire."

International Business Times said there have only been about 200 cases of SHC reported over three centuries. But not everyone is buying the idea of spontaneous combustion: Joe Nickell, author and paranormal investigator, has studied cases in which human combustion was evoked for more than four decades, and he’s determined that Rahul’s case is just another example of blaming a phenomenon that doesn’t actually exist.

'There's no possibility'

"We now know there’s no possibility, scientifically speaking, of any thing called Spontaneous Human Combustion," Nickell told MSN News. "This would be like revisiting whether the earth’s really round or flat. It’s settled science and there’s no respectable scientist in the world who believes in this."

Nickell believes that spontaneous combustion is an absurd theory for several reasons, including the fact that the human body is primarily made of water and that spontaneous combustion would entail him burning from the inside out instead of simply suffering his skin surface burns.

Though Zee News India reported that doctors found no signs of child abuse after inspecting Rahul, Nickell insists that he is actually in danger, adding that family members or those close to him with an insidious agenda might be purposely causing him harm.

"I can assure you if I had that child in my protection, I wouldn't allow any family members near him and I can guarantee you these fires would stop," he said.



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