Mom Loses Custody Of Newborn Baby After Eating A Poppy Seed Bagel And Testing Positive For Opiates

Ezra WolfeFlickr

A New York mom reportedly won’t be eating any more poppy seeds after briefly losing custody of her newborn son because she falsely tested positive for opiates after eating a poppy seed bagel.

As Yahoo Lifestyle reports, Elizabeth Dominguez, 29, was set to have labor induced on her third pregnancy back in late April, and on the way to the hospital, she stopped by Tim Hortons to grab an “Everything” bagel, which is coated in poppy seeds, among other condiments. She said she loves those bagels, and had been eating them twice per week during her pregnancy.

However, New York hospitals routinely test mothers for drugs when they deliver babies, and Dominguez was no exception. She dutifully submitted a urine sample, and when it came back, she was told she’d tested positive for opiates — the same class of drugs that includes heroin and Oxycontin.

Dominguez was shocked, saying that she rarely takes drugs, not even for migraines.

Her doctor told her not to worry, that the test was just preliminary, and that if a follow-up test fell below a certain threshold, everything would be fine.

There were two problems with that — first, the results from the follow-up test wouldn’t be in for days, and second, during that time she wouldn’t have custody of her newborn boy, Carter. What’s more, New York child welfare authorities would conduct a thorough investigation during that time.

Once Carter tested negative for opiate withdrawal, Dominguez was told she would be allowed to breastfeed him, even though she says she was too “stressed out” to do it. Meanwhile, Child Protective Services officials were inspecting her home, interviewing her husband and kids, asking them if they felt “safe.”

Then, when she was discharged from the hospital, she still wasn’t allowed to take Carter home. Finally, five days after being discharged from the hospital, she was given the all-clear and allowed to take her infant son home.

She is absolutely convinced it was the poppy seeds on her bagel that caused her to fail the drug test, and she was since sworn off poppy seeds for life.

So can eating a poppy seed bagel (or muffin or other product) cause you to fail a drug test? Yes and no.

Opiates (heroin, Vicodin, Oxycontin, etc.) are derived from a resin that the opium poppy produces, and not the seeds. However, the seeds can come into contact with the resin, and it’s not always removed during processing.

That means that it is indeed possible for someone to have enough opiates in their system that they fail some drug tests. Specifically, this happens if the test uses a lower standard for a positive — the federal government considers an opiate test positive if a patient has 2,000 nanograms of opiates per milliliter of urine, but some private labs use a much lower standard of 300 ng or even 250 ng per milliliter.

And indeed, as an episode of Mythbusters — highlights of which are available in this YouTube video — proved, a patient can indeed test positive for opiates after eating a poppy seed bakery product, especially at lower cutoff points.