Did L.A. "Carmageddon" scare lead to baby boom?

(CBS News) A "Carmageddon" baby boom may be happening in Los Angeles, nine months after construction shut down the busy 405 Freeway in Los Angeles for an entire weekend.

At the time, residents were warned to stay home and off the roads, and now there's an unintended outcome.

"Carmageddon" hype apparently working: officials

"Carmageddon" was one of those "only in LA" kind of stories. When bridge repairs forced the shutdown of a 10-mile stretch of one of the busiest freeways in this car-dependent city, fear, anxiety and hype shifted into overdrive: visions of 60-mile traffic jams, an automotive apocalypse that wasn't.

Scared out of their wits and their cars, residents stayed home that weekend. As a crisis, it was a bust that seems to have spawned a boom - a mini baby boom. They've seen it at The Pump Station, where new moms come for breast feeding tips.

Corky Harvey, co-founder of The Pump Station, said, "People just stayed home and had a relaxing time. Well, relaxation and there you go."

At Providence Medical Center in Tarzana, not far from the 405, Dr. Joie Russo usually delivers eight to ten babies a month. She said, "I've probably done about eight deliveries in the last two weeks, so much so that I wasn't able to go on vacation. In a 30-minute period, including me, there were five deliveries done at once.

What's up? She suspects the culprit is "Carmageddon." But her patients Natasha and Brian Mills know it was.

Brian Mills said, "We just holed up in the house, kind of sat by the fire and hung out with each other."

Natasha Mills finished, "And the rest, I don't have to say."

For now, it's anecdotal, the city's statisticians won't know until they tally the number in a couple of weeks. Perhaps the best-known catastrophe-related baby boom - following the New York City blackout in 1965 - turned out to be an urban myth. But what some call a myth, others call a miracle. There's a freeway on the wall of the newborn Amare Souferian's nursery.

Amare's parents, Michelle and Bejan Souferian, busy with stressful jobs, tried for years to conceive. "Carmageddon" forced them to slow down.

Bejan Souferian said, "Just for us to sit still."

Michelle Souferian added, "There was nothing to do."

The city was telling everyone to take it easy, but it seems like everyone was getting busy.

Los Angeles plans to shut down the freeway for more repairs again this year. And perhaps a new batch of parents will say, as Michelle Souferian did recently, "Thank you to the city of Los Angeles...and to the mayor. ...You brought Amare into the world."

For Bill Whitaker's full report, watch the video in the player above.

  • Bill Whitaker

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