A seven-month-old baby has allegedly been poisoned by his aunt because she was jealous that her sister-in-law had a boy and she gave birth to a girl.
The unidentified women from Changde, in central China’s Hunan Province is thought to have fed the little boy – known as Kang Kang – mercury from a thermometer, reported the People’s Daily Online.
Kang Kang is recovering in hospital. His aunt has reportedly handed herself into the local police station, but it is unclear whether or not she has been charged or sentenced.
Heartbreaking: Kang Kang is treated in a hospital in Changde, China, after allegedly being poisoned by his aunt
Devastated: Kang Kang’s mother wait anxiously in the hospital after discovering her son was poisoned
According to the report, Kang Kang fell ill during a family reunion on December 26.
His mother and father said they were confused as to how he became sick as he never left their side.
His father said he found a broken thermometer placed next to Kang Kang’s bed. Kang Kang became ill the same night.
NHS.uk states that the amount of mercury in a thermometer is usually very small, holding around three grams of what is known as ‘elemental mercury.’
Swallowing this amount would cause little damage but if the mercury is inhaled it can lead to serious health problems. These include breathing difficulties, coughing up blood, red and swollen eyes, and serious chest pains.
Helpless: The seven-month-old child is being treated for alleged mercury poison in a Changde hospital
Poison: The boy’s aunt reportedly fed him mercury over the Christmas holiday’s because she was jealous
At the children’s hospital where Kang Kang is being treated, the woman’s sister-in-law – only known as Ms Wang – who is Kang Kang’s mother, told reporters the reason Kang Kang’s aunt poisoned him was because she gave birth to a daughter and was jealous.
When the one child policy was put into effect in China around 1976, many families preferred to have a boy than a girl.
In Chinese society some believe that giving birth to a boy has a big influence on a woman’s status, and a boy is more likely to earn money for the family as he gets older.
When Kang Kang was taken to the hospital, doctors found traces of mercury in his faeces which reportedly led them to believe he was poisoned.
His aunt allegedly surrendered to the police after this was discovered.
Considerable damage from mercury can occur if it is made airborne and breathed into the lungs.
When this happens symptoms usually show straight away if enough is breathed in.