When Elizabeth Eden was giving birth to her daughter it’s unlikely she anticipated a poppy seed bagel would prompt doctors to report her to authorities.
Eden told the network she was coping with contractions as she delivered her baby on April 4 last year, when a doctor alerted her opioids had been found in her blood. Recalling a high school lesson where she learned poppy seeds can cause a false positive on drug tests, she told the doctor there must be a mistake: Her breakfast must have triggered the results. But the doctor had already reported her to child services.
“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,'” Eden said.
She was forced to stay in hospital for five days, and was assigned a caseworker to check her home. Her case has since been closed.
Eden described the incident as “traumatizing.”
Dr. Judith Rossiter-Pratt, the obstetric and gynecology department chief at St. Joseph Medical Center, told WBAL-TV doctors use such tests to catch mothers who use illegal drugs. After Eden wrote a letter explaining her experience, Rossiter-Pratt acknowledged expectant parents should be better warned about the risks of eating poppy seed bagels before labor.
Opiates are drugs derived from the poppy plant, and eating as little as a teaspoon, or less than that in a poppy seed bagel, can trigger false positive results, Dr. Dwight Smith, of the VA Medical Center in Black Hills, South Dakota, told WedMD. The risk can linger for two or three days after the bagel is consumed.
Drugs such as cold medications, some classes of antidepressants can meanwhile set off false positive test results for amphetamines, while certain antibiotics can set off opioid tests.
Arefa Cassoobhoy, medical editor at WebMD, explained to Mic.com: “The poppy seeds don’t have the drug in them, but both poppy seeds and opium come from the same seed pod, so depending on processing, the poppy seeds might have residue on them that could trigger a positive drug test.”