TOWSON, Md. (CBS Local) – A pregnant woman’s poppy seed bagel caused Maryland health officials to incorrectly believe her baby was at risk when the mother’s drug test came back positive for opiates.
Elizabeth Eden was headed to St. Joseph Medical Center on April 4 and had a poppy seed bagel for breakfast before going into labor. Poppy seeds are derived from opium poppies and can reportedly contain traces of morphine, but not enough to get someone high.
Eden said she heard how poppy seeds can create a false reading on a drug test in school health class, but didn’t expect to hear she failed a test on the day she was giving birth.
“I was in labor. I was sitting in the bed. I was having contractions. I was on a Pitocin drip. And the doctor came in and said, ‘You’ve tested positive for opiates,'” Eden said, via KFDA.
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According to Eden, hospital employees refused to retest her after she told them about the bagel and also told the new mother she had been reported to state officials. “It was traumatizing,” Eden added.
Scientific studies have found that it doesn’t take much for poppy seed-covered food to trigger a false-positive. “Because the International Olympic Committee set a cutoff limit for morphine at 1 µg/mL, high-performance athletes could possibly test positive in doping control after consumption of products containing poppy seeds,” a 2003 report in Oxford Academic concluded.
A positive test at St. Joseph Medical Center is registered at 300 nanograms per millimeter. Dr. Judith Rossiter-Pratt said the hospital uses the test to catch possible drug abusers who may endanger their babies.
“We don’t typically educate patients, and it’s a really good point that people probably should know that if you use poppy seeds before you have a toxicology screen that it could result in a false positive test,” Rossiter-Pratt explained.
The positive test and report to state officials resulted in Eden’s daughter having to stay in the hospital for five days while Eden was assigned a state case worker to examine her situation.
Luckily for the new mother, officials realized that this was a legitimate case of the poppy seed defense and closed her case.
[H/T CBS Baltimore]