(Geographical variation in anophthalmia and microphthalmia in England, 1988-94)
In early 1993 the media reported alleged clusters of children being born without any eyes (anophthalmia), or with very small eyes (microphthalmia) and suggested that these cases might be linked to exposure to a pesticide. In a paper in this week's BMJ Dr Helen Dolk and colleagues from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, report the findings of their study of all such cases in England between 1988-94. They found that there was very little evidence to support the presence of any strongly localised environmental exposures, for example to pesticides, causing clusters of children to be born with anophthalmia or microphthalmia. However, they are concerned that children from rural areas are twice as likely to suffer from this condition than those born in areas with a high population density. They conclude that this association needs further investigation.
Dr Helen Dolk, Senior Lecturer, Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London