Elizabeth Dominguez, 29, of Tonawanda, N.Y. says she will never eat poppy seeds again after an everything bagel painted the new mom as a drug user.
On April 30th, the night before her induction to deliver her third baby, Dominguez stopped by a Tim Hortons restaurant to grab an everything bagel that had poppy seeds.
“I love them — I ate them twice a week during my pregnancy,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
At the hospital, Dominguez submitted a urine sample and later that evening a nurse delivered the results. “She said, ‘Are you aware you tested positive for opiates?’” Dominguez recalls. The class of drugs includes Vicodin, heroin, Codeine and morphine.
“I said, ‘What’s that?’” says Dominguez. “I rarely take drugs, not even for migraines.”
Dominguez hadn’t heard that poppy seeds may cause false-positive drug test results because they’re extrapolated from the opium poppy plant, like opiates. When both are removed from the plant, seeds can become contaminated. According to the the FDA, “most” of the seeds used in food are washed beforehand.
Dominguez’s doctor said not to worry — her urine was utilized in a preliminary “dipstick test” and more testing was needed. As long as results showed morphine levels lower than 250 mg/ml, she would be cleared.
As reported by Live Science, in 1998, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services changed the cut-off level for a positive morphine test from 300 ng/ml to 2,000 ng/ml, but some labs determine their own levels.
A representative of Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital did not return an interview request from Yahoo Lifestyle.
On May 1, after Dominguez’s urine was submitted for further testing, she delivered her son Carter. The baby was tested for opioid withdrawal and Dominguez was allowed to breastfeed, although she was too stressed out to do so.
While waiting on the results of Dominguez’s drug test, the hospital arranged for Child Protective Services to interview the mom. “The women who came were very nice — they were just doing their job — but it felt like they were threatening to take my baby away,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “They also asked where my two other children would live if they were removed from our house.”
The case workers also met with Dominguez’s husband at home to assess the family’s living conditions and questioned the two children, ages 6 and 8, at school. “They asked my kids if they felt safe living with me,” says Dominguez. “My daughter was scared.”
When Dominguez was discharged on Friday, she wasn’t allowed to bring Carter home. “At that point, my test results still weren’t ready — I was calling every day to check,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
After five days, Dominguez received a negative drug test and the green light to go home as a family. “I couldn’t bond with my newborn, and even now, I’m so afraid to make a mistake with him,” she says.
With so much health information thrown at expecting moms, Dominguez feels the dangers of poppy seeds should be high on the list. “My next step is to meet with the FDA [U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration],” she says. “I want companies to wash their poppy seeds thoroughly.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: