Can E-ZPass Save Your Baby's Life?

E-ZPass isn't just saving you time. It's also saving your unborn child.

At least that's the conclusion of this study that found

reducing congestion and emissions through the E-ZPass system, premature births dropped 10.8% and instances of low birth weight declined 11.8% for mothers within two kilometers of the toll plaza.

Seems a little dramatic, no?

I'm not denying that pollution can impact the fetus. It's fairly well demonstrated that pollution, whether from particulate matter or second hand smoking, harms the unborn more than the mother, and can result in genetic mutations. But researchers haven't always tied pollution to higher instances of low birth weight and premature deaths in cases of low pollution, although there's a significant fight in London over the number of premature deaths caused by city smog.

A New York study found "it is not known what the health effects of this DNA damage, if any, are for newborns." Another study claimed that pollutants like tobacco and fossil fuels, for which "urban minorities tend to have excessive exposure," could result in lower IQs for children. But really, I don't know that cigarettes are the right explanation for the racial differences in IQ.

All of which is to say, these kind of studies can't prove causation, only correlation, and sometimes they come up with spurious relationships. But ultimately, the message is simple. Consider your time, your planet and your children. Those are all important things. At worst, E-ZPass saves two of three.

(Thanks to Madeleine Kennedy for finding the WSJ piece.)