A pregnant woman in western Pennsylvania enjoyed a Dunkin’ Donuts poppy seed bagel the morning she went into labor. Later, when the hospital administered a routine drug test, it came out positive for opiates. Child services were called and her newborn infant was placed in foster care.
But all she had was a bagel! Heroin is derived from the same poppies these seeds come from and though the seeds will not get you high, they can sometimes show up in a blood test as an opiate.
It’s not all that common but it does happen and studies have confirmed this mistake can be made—traces of the poppy seeds show up in blood for 24 hours post-ingestion.
“This is bizarre. This can’t be the policy because there would be a lot more mothers this would come up with and you don’t hear about this happening with them,” said Mark Hudak, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs.
According to an article about this story in TIME, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that hospitals can’t test pregnant women for drugs without their permission. But: “Nearly a decade later, there are no national standards regarding drug-testing mothers (nor is there much in the way of data about legitimate drugs and pregnant women); guidelines vary from state to state and from hospital to hospital.”
The infant has been returned to her mother and the hospital and country workers have been accused of neglecting to thoroughly investigate. She will probably sue.
So, I guess the moral of the story is: don’t eat poppy seeds for 24 hours before you go into labor. It really is the cherry on the icing on the cake of nine months of annoying food prohibitions. But until hospitals upgrade their blood testing procedures to parse out the poppy seeds from the dope, it might be a good idea.