While most new mothers spend the hours after giving birth bonding with their child, a New York state woman was denied access to her newborn son after the poppy seed bagel she ate for breakfast caused her to fail a drug test.
Tonawanda, N.Y. resident Elizabeth Dominguez says she was stunned to learn she tested positive for drugs on the day she went into labour with her son, Carter.
“I did a urine test and it came back that I tested positive for opiates,” the new mom told WKBW News. “I called my husband freaking out saying, ‘how is this possible? I don’t do drugs.”
As per hospital protocol, staff informed Child Protective Services (CPS) despite the 29-year-old requesting another drug test.
“I told the lab, I told the hospital, I told everyone, ‘Retest me. Take my blood. Do whatever you have to do, because this isn’t right,” Dominguez said.
Multiple studies have confirmed that eating foods with poppy seeds, which are derived from the opium poppy plant, such as a poppy seed bagel, can result in an opiate positive urine test. What’s more, urine can remain positive for opiates such as codeine and morphine anywhere from 24 to 48 hours after ingestion.
Throughout the ‘90s, researchers argued for more detailed tests to be performed and have called for additional research into the metabolic impact of the drugs and food. Many feared that these positive tests prevent patients from receiving adequate levels of care and access to medication on the assumption that they have engaged in illicit drug behaviour.
In 1998, the United States Department of Health and Human Services raised the opiate threshold from 300ng/ML to 2,000 ng/ML of morphine to avoid false-positive results caused by eating food with poppy seeds. However, as one 2008 study revealed, many labs throughout the United States still use the 300ng/ML, while others note that it is still possible to ingest poppy seeds and test positive for opiates, regardless of the revised threshold.
The impact of the false-positive test can have serious implications on a person’s level of care. In the case of Dominguez, despite additional drug tests showing no sign of opiates, she was discharged and kept away from her son for the first 24 hours of his life.
“I felt absolutely horrible,” Dominguez said of the ordeal. “I felt like a terrible mother leaving him.”
Hospital reports later cited the poppyseed bagel as the source of the false-positive and reunited Dominguez with her child. Still, the new mother wants other women to know that it’s possible for a celebratory life event to turn into a nightmare, all because of poppyseeds.
“I just want everyone to know that this could happen,” she warned. “It’s such a terrible thing and I don’t want it to happen to anyone.”