Health Highlights: Oct. 17, 2017

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

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Air Pollution Exposure in Womb Could Shorten Lives: Study

Babies exposed to air pollution in the womb may have shorter lives, new research suggests.

Researchers examined 641 mother-child pairs and found that exposure to air pollution during pregnancy was associated with shorter telomeres in babies, CNN reported.

Telomeres are caps on the end of chromosomes. Their length is believed to be a maker of biological aging.

The authors of the study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics said their findings suggest that pre-birth exposure to air pollution may put infants at risk of health problems later in life, CNN reported.

But the study results showed be interpreted with caution and further research is needed, according to an accompanying editorial.

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Senator Wants Law Changed After 60 Minutes Story on Opioid Crisis

Legislation to repeal a law that critics say impedes the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's ability to fight the nation's opioid epidemic was proposed Monday by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Virginia).

He introduced the bill in response to a joint investigation by 60 Minutes and the Washington Post that was critical of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016, CBS News reported.

The law is "harmful to our efforts" to fight the opioid epidemic, and "now it's time to make it right," according to Manchin.

In the 60 Minutes/Post investigation, former DEA attorney Jonathan Novak criticized Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pennsylvania) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) for introducing the Controlled Substances Act and its regulations, unanimously passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, CBS News reported.

Novak said the law weakened the DEA's ability to prevent drug companies from distributing large amounts of opioids to questionable outlets, which contributes to abuse of the addictive drugs.

Also on Monday, Manchin sent a letter to the White House demanding that Marino's nomination be removed from consideration as the leader of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, CBS News reported.

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"During the biggest public health crisis since HIV/AIDS, we need someone leading the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy who believes we must protect our people, not the pharmaceutical industry," Manchin said.

In response to the 60 Minutes/Post investigation, the DEA said Monday it will continue to "use all the tools at our disposal to combat this epidemic," CBS News reported.


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