A new mom in Maryland, USA couldn’t celebrate much after giving birth to her daughter in April earlier this year. And it was all because of a simple food she had for breakfast — poppy seed bagel! She tested positive in her drug test and what followed next over the next few months were nothing but traumatising.
“I was in labour. 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,’” Elizabeth Eden told WBAL TV11.
The young mother who was at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson initially couldn’t believe what the doctors told her and didn’t know how she could be tested positive for opiates. Then she remembered having poppy seed bagel few hours before the test. As she had read that seeds which come from opium poppies — can lead to false positives on drug tests, she requested the staff to run the test again. However, they denied her request and reported her to the state.
Following which her newborn daughter, Beatrice, was required to stay in the hospital for five days and a case-worker was assigned to monitor Eden’s behaviour. And after a lot of verifications, the case-worker closed her file after determining that her’s was “a legitimate case of the poppy seed defence,” the channel added.
Now, she hopes that her case would prompt the hospital to address such concerns or at least warn expectant mothers.
It is well-known fact that opium, heroin, codeine and morphine all come from opium poppies. And while poppy seeds do not contain any of these substances, they can become contaminated with morphine during the harvesting process.
And the implication of ‘false’ positive drug test due to poppy seed seems more common than many think. In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who had her 3-day-old daughter taken away by child welfare officials for five days after she ate a poppy seed bagel and failed a drug test. And most recently, a US jail guard was fired from his job after he tested positive in a drug test.
Before the guidelines were updated in 1998, individuals whose urine tests showed morphine concentrations of over 300 nanograms per millilitre were considered to have tested positive for opiates. But then a regulation was passed to change it to levels of 2,000 or above, however, some organisation like the hospital where Eden gave birth still use the old parameter. Dr Judith Rossiter-Pratt, the chief of the department of OBGYN at the hospital explained that they keep it to 300 since some drug users might test negative otherwise.
So next time you are about to have a drug test stay away from poppy seeds aka Khas Khas or Posto, popularly known in India.