A 7-month-old baby was allegedly poisoned by his aunt because she was jealous her sister-in-law gave birth to a baby boy and she had a girl.
The anonymous woman from Changde, in central China’s Hunan Province is believed to have fed the little boy, known as Kang Kang, mercury from a thermometer, the People’s Daily Online reported, notes Daily Mail.
Kang became ill during a family gathering on Dec. 26, according to the report.
His parents said they had no idea how he became ill because he never left their side.
Mr. Wang, Kang’s father, said he discovered a broken thermometer next to the baby’s bed. Kang became sick the same night.
An average thermometer only contains a small amount of mercury — about 3 grams — of the poison and is not lethal, according to Britain’s National Health Service. Few modern thermometers in the U.S. contain mercury and they have been banned in most states since 2001.
Swallowing this quantity of mercury could cause slight damage, though if the mercury is breathed in it can lead to major health problems. These include breathing problems, coughing up blood, red and swollen eyes, and severe chest pains.
When Kang was rushed to hospital, doctors found traces of mercury in his system which led them to believe he was poisoned.
His aunt reportedly handed herself in to local authorities after the mercury was discovered, but it is uncertain whether or not she has been charged or sentenced. Kang is recovering in the hospital.
At the children’s hospital where Kang is being treated, the boy’s mother, Mrs. Wang, told reporters she believed the reason her sister-in-law poisoned the baby was because she gave birth to a baby son and Kang’s aunt gave birth to a girl.
In China, a son is preferred to carry on the name, provide greater help with farm work and thought to earn more money.
Many regions of China have modernized since the one child policy took effect in 1976 and China ranks second in terms of women in management, according to a 2011 report by Grant Thornton International via China Daily. China is phasing out the one child policy.
Rural, inland areas like Changde are still impoverished and many residents hold backwards views on gender.
Sources: People’s Daily Online, Daily Mail, U.K. National Health Service, China Daily, Slate / Photo credit: Daily Mail