THANJAVUR: The couple-Saravanan (32), a daily wage worker from Kumbakonam and Sumitra (23) of Mayiladuthurai were at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Rajah Mirasudhar Government Hospital at Thanjavur on Friday.
They have been waiting for the past 14 days as their baby girl, born on August 16, administered mercury with betel leaves for treating “cradle cap” (karappan) on the ear lobe, by Sumitra’s maternal aunt, was brought here on August 17 and admitted for treatment.
The child, to whom the mercury administration might have turned fatal-thanks to the belief of her grandmother that mercury with betel will correct ‘cradle cap’-, is recuperating at the timely intervention of doctors of the hospital.
“The child is safe. We gave stomach wash. But the mercury is in the large intestine. It will come out. The child is under observation” said Dr.Kumutha Lingaraj, dean of Thanjavur Medical College.
According to Sumitra, her baby had “cradle cap” (Karappan) on the ear lobe. To treat that, her maternal aunt had given the mercury with betel leaves. But she (Sumitra) was not aware of that.
Later, when doctors of Government hospital at Mayiladuthurai, where the child was born took x-ray they found the presence of mercury and referred the case to Rajah Mirasudhar Government hospital at Thanjavur.
“However my maternal aunt later admitted that she gave mercury with betel leaves. This has been a practice in the area. I don't know where she got the mercury.” said Sumitra.
The dean said that these kind of practices put the child at risk. It may turn fatal. People should avoid this. Sometimes people misunderstand baby giving motion in black colour (meconium in medical term) as it was born. This is but natural that the motion will be in coffee powder colour. But some consider this as some stomach problem,” she explained.
Dr Usha Devi, resident medical officer, Dr V.S. Subburaman, associate professor of Paediatrics department and Dr G.Saravanan, assistant professor told DC on Friday that the new born developed “cradle cap” (karappan) on the ear lobe. “The child, referred by Government hospital, Mayiladuthurai came with “Abdomen distension” and vomiting here and was admitted on August 17. We thought of operating but decided against it and took x-ray and gave a stomach wash. Now mercury is in the large intestine. It may come with bowl movement,” they said.
They also said that another child with mercury poisoning from the same Mayiladuthurai area was admitted to the hospital on July 27 and discharged on August 7.
This practice of giving mercury with betel leaves is prevalent in Paravai village area of Nagapattinam district and Mayiladuthurai is also nearby, they explained. But this practice should be avoided, the doctors said....