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Mother loses child custody after testing positive for opiates

Have you ever wondered whether the urban legend that eating poppy seeds can make a person test positive for a drug test? At least one mother believes in the assertion that poppy seeds turn up as opiates on drug tests. The mother lost child custody of her newborn son after she tested positive for the substance. The mother and her lawyer maintain the positive results were the result of her eating salad dressing that contained poppy seeds.

The mother from Pennsylvania gave birth to her son on July 13, 2009 and afterward a routine blood test was performed by the hospital. The test results showed that the mother had opiates in her system, but the mother maintained that she had eaten a salad with poppy seed dressing before birth.

The initial blood test was sent to an outside laboratory to confirm the results and came back the same. Because of the positive results the hospital contacted the state's child protective services and a child custody order was obtained.

The mother lost custody of her child two days after giving birth, but regained custody 75 days later. The mother's attorney claims only trace amounts of opiates were found in the woman's blood.

According to toxicologists who were not a part of the testing or custody procedures, the trace amount of opiates did not necessarily come from the poppy seeds and detection would depend on the type of test administered by the hospital. The director of the Forensic Toxicology Laboratory at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine says an individual would have to eat a lot more than salad dressing in order for poppy seeds to test positive.

Another toxicologist from the University of Florida agreed and both toxicologists say the results of the test do not mean the mother used illegal drugs. The experts say a second test, like a hair test, should have been used to confirm the initial results.

Source: ABC News, "Woman sues after losing custody of infant," Kim Carollo, 7/19/11

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