This woman tested positive for opiates during labor because she ate a poppy seed bagel

Elise Solé
Yahoo Lifestyle
A mom tested positive for opiates after eating a poppy seed bagel for breakfast. (Photo: WBAL-TV)
A mom tested positive for opiates after eating a poppy seed bagel for breakfast. (Photo: WBAL-TV)

A mother who ate a poppy seed bagel before going into labor wound up testing positive for opiates — and almost losing her newborn baby in the process.

According to local news station WVTM 13, Elizabeth Eden of Maryland was in labor at St. Joseph Medical Center on April 4 when a doctor delivered some shocking news. “‘You’ve tested positive for opiates,’” Eden recalled. “I said, ‘Well, can you test me again? And I ate a poppy seed bagel this morning for breakfast,’ and [the doctor] said, ‘No, you’ve been reported to the state.’”

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As a result, Eden’s newborn daughter Beatrice was placed on a 5-day hold at the hospital and a state caseworker visited the new mom at home. Eden’s case was fortunately resolved, but she told WVTN 13 of the experience, “It was traumatizing.” 

How can a basic breakfast potentially ruin someone’s life? According to emergency room physician Jedidiah Ballard, poppy seeds are extracted from the poppy plant, from which heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids are derived. “Eating poppy seeds won’t make you high; however, they contain the same chemical code detected by drug tests,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Drug tests can produce positive results after a person ingests just one teaspoon of poppy seeds, causing their morphine levels to register at 1,200 nanograms per millimeter. And the tests at Eden’s hospital reveal positive results when that number reaches 300.

These tests can be problematic, says Ballard, because they don’t screen for synthetic versions of opioids, which are frequently abused by drug users.

Because poppy seeds have little nutritional value, save for fiber, the doctor recommends that people avoid baked goods that contain them, within a week of drug tests. “Until tests are sophisticated to differentiate a benign seed from a serious street drug,” he says. “It’s not worth the hassle.”

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