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Mom of Newborn Reported to State for Eating a Poppy Seed Bagel

Published: August 13, 2018
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<i>Poppy seed bagel by <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/ezraw/'>Ezra Wolfe</a> on <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/ezraw/95787196'>flickr</a></i>
Poppy seed bagel by Ezra Wolfe on flickr

When a mother in labor seemed to test positive for opiates, that alone was enough to get her reported for drug use. To make matters worse, she claimed that she hadn't actually been using drugs.

Baltimore County mother Elizabeth Eden was in labor at St. Joseph Medical Center when a doctor informed her that she tested positive for opiates, WBAL-TV reports. Earlier that day, Eden had consumed a poppy seed bagel. She remembered hearing in a health class that the poppy seeds could lead to a false positive in a drug test.

"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 recalled. After giving birth, Eden's daughter, Beatrice, was forced to remain in the hospital for five days. Eden was also assigned a caseworker, who conducted a home check. When the caseworker concluded that the poppy seed defense was legitimate, the case was closed. Still, Eden called the ordeal "traumatizing."

Time explains why something as small as a poppy seed can cause such a misunderstanding:

Opium, heroin, codeine and morphine all come from opium poppies. While poppy seeds do not actually contain any of these substances, they can become tainted with morphine during the harvesting process, according to Brittanica. In some cases, the morphine residue on the seeds, while not enough to create a high, is enough to throw off the results of a drug test, research shows.

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