NBC News – Kids’ deaths halved but 6 million still die every year: UNICEF
Nearly 6 million kids under the age of 5 die every year — a horrific number, but that’s a 53 percent drop since 1990, a new report from UNICEF finds.
Many more lives can be saved with some low-cost efforts, including prenatal care, helping women breastfeed, immunizing babies and moms, treating mosquito nets with insecticide to prevent malaria, giving antibiotics to treat pneumonia and providing supplemented food, the United Nations childrens’ agency said.
“Under-five deaths have dropped from 12.7 million per year in 1990 to 5.9 million in 2015. This is the first year the figure has gone below the 6 million mark,” UNICEF said in a statement.

USA Today – Smallest preemies more likely to survive without complications
Survival rates for the earliest premature babies are improving, with fewer of these very small newborns suffering serious complications, according to a study released Tuesday.
Prematurity still carries enormous risks, especially for babies as small as those in this study, who were born between the 22nd and 28th week of pregnancy. A typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks.
Only 9% of babies born at 22 weeks survived in 2012, for example, up from 6% in 1993, according to the study, which included 34,636 infants who had birth weights ranging from 14.1 ounces to 3.3 lbs. Among babies born at 28 weeks, survival improved from 91% in 1993 to 94% in 2012.

Vox – A government shutdown fight is brewing. This one is over Planned Parenthood.
Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, one of the most conservative Republicans in the House, opened a hearing on Planned Parenthood Wednesday with a statement that should terrify House Speaker John Boehner.
“The sands of time should blow over the Capitol dome before we ever give Planned Parenthood one more dime of taxpayers’ money,” Franks declared in an opening statement.
Franks is part of a movement in the Republican Congress hell-bent on defunding Planned Parenthood, potentially even shutting down the government. This fight is shaping up into the biggest policy clash of the rest of the year — testing the power of the far-right wing of the Republican conference and, once again, putting Planned Parenthood in the spotlight.

The New York Times – Fires in west have residents gasping on the soot left behind
The air in the San Joaquin Valley hangs thick with gray-brown dust, a result of the state’s largest fire, which has burned through more than 160 square miles in the nearby hills.
The fire has so far spared lives and homes. But it has exposed one of the obscured effects that four years of record drought has unleashed here: dangerous drops in air quality that exacerbate public health problems in this region and threaten to choke the quality of life.