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Canadian parents question link between pesticide, deformed eyes

January 13, 1999
Web posted at: 4:04 p.m. EST (2104 GMT)

RODNEY, Canada (CNN) -- Kristi Lewinsky's day is spent caring for her daughter Laurisa. The baby's eyes are not fully developed, a condition know as anophthalmia.

Tests show there's no apparent genetic cause for the condition, leading Lewinsky to believe her daughter may be the victim of something manmade.

"I want somebody to do some research on this," she said.

Laurisa has no left eye and only a small eye on the right. Doctors have temporarily installed prosthetic eyes for support.

Without proper-sized eyes, the eye sockets and the bones in the face may not grow properly in children with anophthalmia.

Lewinsky's child isn't alone. Laurisa and Gregory Stewart, 3, are among at least 10 children in Canada born with this condition in the last three years.

Gregory's mother, Lori Stewart, suspects the culprit may be Benlate, a fungicide linked to eye defects in animals.

However, ophthalmologist Larry Allen has seen seven cases of the defect and says he is less sure about a connection.

"There's no clear evidence there's any common thing," he said.

In the United States and Britain, families of children with underdeveloped eyes have filed dozens of lawsuits based on the perceived link to Benlate.

Lewinsky is calling on the Canadian government to launch a formal study into a possible link between the substance and the mysterious illness that has left her daughter blind.

CTV contributed to this story.

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