There is never any excuse for harming a child. Sadly, there are people who do mistreat children, and often, the young victims are being abused by the very adults they’re supposed to trust. In some cases, however, “abuse” is a gross understatement.

While recovering from giving birth in Shenzhen, China, a 24-year-old new mother named Li Zhenghua did something to her newborn son that is difficult for a person with any sort of moral compass to fathom. You may find it hard to imagine this actually occurred, but it did—and it horrified everyone who witnessed it.

(Warning: Content may be disturbing to some readers.)

There is no excuse for abuse, especially between a parent and child, but one severely disturbed mother in China committed an act that was so heinous it’s almost impossible to understand. The tragedy involved 24-year-old Li Zhenghua, who was broke and living on the streets in Shenzhen, China…

Li had originally lived in the same house as her mother-in-law, but she was kicked out. Although the reason was unknown, the two women were at odds for quite some time, and the mother-in-law saw no other alternative.

Li also happened to be pregnant while she was homeless. It was a massive challenge for her to survive on the streets—especially while pregnant—but she managed to live off scraps of discarded food.

One day, Li was found on the street already in labor. She was brought to the hospital for help where doctors delivered a healthy baby boy. Despite the circumstances, Li appeared happy while she waited to be handed her new son.

While hospital staff cleaned up the hospital room, a nurse named Liu Tianlun, who was doing her daily rounds in the maternity ward, noticed something horrific in Li’s room. The mother suddenly started to do something so vile that Liu didn’t believe her eyes at first…

Liu stared in awe as she watched Li gnaw on her newborn son’s arm as if it were food! The mother was actually trying to eat her baby. Thankfully, other hospital workers noticed and immediately pounced on Li to restrain her.

Li was immediately brought into a different room. Her behavior was completely out of control, and she was posing a danger to her newborn son, to herself, and to all of the hospital employees involved.

Li was kept separate from her child until nurses were able to determine how badly the baby was injured and why Li was acting so abhorrently. Even though the child’s arm was injured, it could have been much worse if nurses hadn’t immediately stopped Li. There was no telling how far she would have gone…

Li’s newborn son was immediately treated for his injuries. Luckily, doctors were able to stop the bleeding caused by Li’s teeth. They stitched up the poor baby, but he was still in tremendous pain. Still, at the very least, he was safe.

The nurses sedated Li to calm her down while they called the police. Doctors eventually discovered that Li had a history of severe mental illness, and she had been on several medications. This was most likely the reasoning behind her bizarre behavior.

A short time later, the police arrived at the hospital and arrested Li. A formal investigation was launched, but reports have not indicated whether the investigation resulted in any conclusive evidence regarding the reasons behind Li’s behavior.

As appalling as that story is, that’s actually not the only case of a mother attempting to eat her own child. In India, a mother of three named Pramila Mondal was caught by her brother-in-law cutting off a piece of her youngest daughter’s scalp—and consuming it!

Luckily, the little girl’s screams were loud enough to alert her uncle who ran in to rescue her. He snatched her away from Pramila, and he, along with some friends, rushed the child to the Malda Medical Hospital in West Bengal, India.

The young girl, named Bharati, was bleeding profusely when her uncle brought her in, but doctors were able to put a stop to the gushing blood. She was given medication to alleviate her pain and placed under constant surveillance while she healed.

When neighbors discovered what happened, they formed a mob and attacked Pramila. They bound her with rope and beat her. She confessed to her actions, but she couldn’t explain her reason behind it. Police eventually arrived and broke up the angry group, saving Pramila’s life in the process.

Bharati was lucky her uncle heard her cries, or things could’ve ended much worse for the helpless toddler. Pramila was promptly arrested and expected to appear in court soon after. Although Bharati had suffered an unthinkable trauma, she was finally in good hands.

In the wild, it is not uncommon for animals to eat their own young, but never would you think this unfortunate behavior could extend to humans, as well. The world can be a very unsettling place sometimes…

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