Baby burnt to death in incubator: Family awaits autopsy

Police are investigating a children's hospital in Quanzhou, Fujian province, after a newborn was allegedly burned to death in an incubator.

The infant's parents agreed on Friday to an autopsy to determine "whether the baby died of staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome or too high a temperature" in the incubator, Chen Xiahong, a Quanzhou publicity official, said.

"We will publish the result soon," Chen said.

Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome is a condition common among children under the age of 6 that causes painful blistering of the skin.

The shocking incident was first exposed on Thursday by a netizen who claimed to be a relative of the infant.

The netizen posted a horrific photo on the Chinese micro-blogging website Sina Weibo that showed the baby lying face down on a blanket with severe sores and burns on its back.

According to the baby's father, Ye Yilong, the baby girl was born with low oxygen on July 6 at Quanzhou Children's Hospital after more than 10 hours of labour.

The doctor suggested placing the infant in an incubator under observation for about 10 days, Ye told China Daily on Friday.

On July 14, doctors said the baby could be discharged soon, but a day later they said she caught a cold and may have an infection.

On July 17, the hospital informed Ye that the baby had died.

When changing the baby's clothes, Ye was shocked to find bloody burns on the baby's back and legs and asked the hospital for an explanation.

"The doctor said the burns were caused by an infection, but I seriously doubted it," Ye said.

"It didn't add up, the other day doctors said the baby was okay, and suddenly she is gone," Ye said.

The family demanded to see surveillance footage and to speak with the nurse who attended to the baby, but the hospital turned down their request.

Ye alleged that the hospital deleted the footage of the baby's last days in the incubator.

The hospital refused to respond to Ye's allegations on Friday.

A Friday media briefing was cancelled by the hospital, which added that the Quanzhou publicity department will handle questions from the media.

Chen Hao, a pediatrician with Fuzhou Children's Hospital, said he has never heard of such a case.

Although it's rare, an equipment failure or human error could have caused the incident, Chen said.

The investigation team is questioning all staff who were on duty when the baby died, the city's publicity department said on Thursday night.