Clip of Infant With Rare Genetic Condition Shared as ‘Alien’ Baby
Harlequin Icthyosis is a rare genetic skin disorder causing thickened skin over the entire face and body at birth.
A video showing an infant with redness and cracks on its body is doing the rounds on social media where users are sharing it as a 'demon child' born in Uttar Pradesh's Shamli, or as an infant born in Kanpur's Akbarpur district.
The short clip, which also shows a gloved hand covering the infant, is also being shared to claim that the infant did not die 'even after 50 injections.'
However, we found that the video shows an infant with a rare genetic disorder called Harlequin Icthyosis.
Speaking to The Quint, Dr Simal Soin, Chief Dermatologist at AAYNA Clinics said that Harlequin Icthyosis was a "rare genetic skin condition" causing "massive thickening of skin over the entire body," which leads to distortion of normal facial features.
Several social media users are sharing the video, with a variety of claims that call the infant a "demon child" or an "alien."
Some versions also claim that the baby was born to a Muslim family, and did not pass away "even after 50 injections."
(Note: Links to the video have not been included as the visuals may be distressing for some viewers.)
The claims place the incident near Uttar Pradesh's Shamli, as well as Kanpur's Akbarpur district.
The Quint received queries regarding the video's verification on its WhatsApp tipline as well.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We divided the video into multiple keyframes using InVID, a video verification tool, and ran reverse image searches on some of them.
One of the results on Yandex, a Russian search engine, showed a similar photo of an infant on Wikimedia Commons, which mentioned that it showed 'Harlequin-type Icthyosis.'
On conducting a keyword search for the same, we came across a report by Down To Earth, which discussed a case in Odisha's Behrampur.
The article mentioned that Harlequin Icthyosis "was an extremely rare genetic disorder" resulting in infants being born with "thickened skin over nearly the entire body."
Another article by Hindustan Times published in 2016 discussed India's first ever case of the condition in Nagpur, Maharashtra. It mentioned that the disorder affected shapes of all organs and was caused by genetic mutations in the ABCA12 protein, which plays an important part in the transportation of fat in cells, which form the outermost layer of the skin.
The Quint had also carried a report on the Nagpur case, where the infant was under intensive care, but passed away two days later.
We reached out to Dr Simal Soin, Chief Dermatologist at AAYNA Clinics, who confirmed the condition, calling it a "very rare genetic skin condition which is associated with massive thickening of skin over the entire body."
"The thick skin has defective keratinisation because of overgrowth, ten times of normal, so it pulls and distorts normal facial features. There is no cure but management is the only way around."Dr Simal Soin, Chief Dermatologist, AAYNA Clinics
She added that though the mortality rate had improved, it was "still around 50 percent."
Clearly, the video shows an infant afflicted with Harlequin Icthyosis, a rare genetic skin condition, and not a "demon" or "alien" baby.
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