The new mom told the doctor she had eaten a poppy seed bagel but the state had already been notified of the positive drug test.
On the day of her daughter’s birth, Elizabeth Eden, a mom from Baltimore County, Maryland, did not expect to fail the routine drug test because of her breakfast that morning.
“I was in labor. I was sitting in bed. I was having contractions. I was on a Pitocin drip, and the doctor came in and said, ‘You’ve tested positive for opiates,’” the new mom said, according to WBAL-TV. “I said, ‘Well, can you test me again? And I ate a poppy seed bagel this morning for breakfast,’ and she said, ‘No, you’ve been reported to the state.”
That was in April. Beatrice, the newborn, was monitored in the hospital for five days, and the state did a home check-up. The case is now closed, but Eden said the ordeal was “traumatizing.”
She’s written a letter to St. Joseph Medical Center, urging the hospital to raise the threshold for a positive drug test, or at least inform new moms about it.
Poppy seeds come from the same opium poppy plant that heroin, morphine and oxycodone are derived from, and can thus trigger a positive result on a drug test.
Research has shown that just a teaspoon of poppy seeds can raise a person’s opioid levels to 1,200 nanograms per milliliter. However, St. Joseph’s threshold is much lower—300 nanograms per milliliter.
The chief of the department of OBGYN at the hospital explained that the low threshold is meant to be on the safe side. If you raise the bar, “you would only identify true positives, but you would also miss quite a few individuals who did use drugs and were considered screened negative,” said Dr. Judith Rossiter-Pratt.
This isn’t the first time a new mom was snagged by a drug test because of a seemingly innocent meal.
In April 2010, new parents Elizabeth Mort and Alex Rodriguez, of New Castle, Pennsylvania, were settling in with their infant daughter, when state authorities arrived at the home with a “court order to remove the three-day-old infant,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania reported.
Mort had yielded a positive drug test in the hospital, only to find out later that it was triggered by an “everything” bagel from Dunkin’ Donuts she’d had two hours before arriving at the hospital.
Another woman from the same Pennsylvania county had had a pasta salad with poppy seed dressing, triggering a positive result, and the state to take her newborn for 75 days.