MedPage Today – When Air Quality Improves, So Do Kids’ Asthma Symptoms
Declining levels of air pollution in Southern California were linked to reduced rates of asthma and other respiratory conditions in children, a small longitudinal study showed.
Reductions in ambient air pollution over the course of 20 years were associated with significant reductions in bronchitic symptoms among all children. A 47% decrease in levels of particulate matter was linked to a 32% reduction in the likelihood of bronchitic symptoms in 10-year-old children with asthma (OR 0.68, P=0.002) and a 21% (OR 0.79, P<0.001) reduction among 10-year-olds without asthma, reported Kiros Berhane, PhD, of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues.

The Wall Street Journal – Health Officials Call for Less Aggressive Treatment of Pain
In a sign of growing alarm about painkiller addiction, a group of U.S. state health officials, doctors and consumer advocates is calling for a stricter approach to treating pain in hospitals and clinics.
The group of 60, including senior health officials from Pennsylvania, Vermont, Alaska and Rhode Island, is recommending new guidelines for pain treatment, saying current standards are too aggressive and contribute to overuse of addictive painkillers.

NPR – Zika Virus Can Cause Brain Defects In Babies, CDC Confirms
After months of hesitation, U.S. health officials now say that the Zika virus is indeed the cause of severe brain damage in the infants of some women who were infected with the virus during pregnancy.
A CDC review published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine describes evidence of what U.S. health officials now call a causal relationship between the virus and a severe form of microcephaly and intracranial calcifications.

The Associated Press via The Washington Post – EPA: No changes to federal lead water rule until next year
The Environmental Protection Agency’s top water regulator said Wednesday that officials are working urgently to strengthen a federal rule limiting lead and copper in drinking water — a key focus in the ongoing lead-contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan.
But Joel Beauvais, acting chief of the EPA’s water office, said proposed changes will not be released until next year, with a final rule expected months after that.