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Mom Eats Lemon Poppy Seed Bread on Way to Hospital to Give Birth. Then CPS Shows up to Investigate.

Jamie Silakowski
Screenshot/WROC

Jamie Silakowski stopped for something to eat on the way to the hospital. It was a decision that would haunt her for weeks.

As WROC reports, the mom from Depew, New York was on her way to the delivery of her third child. Hunter was her rainbow baby, and between the fear of complications and the stress of a pregnancy after a miscarriage, Jamie was excited to greet her son.

On the way to Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, the mom went to a Tim Horton’s and got a slice of lemon poppy seed bread. She then went on to the hospital.

The delivery went well, and Jamie was enjoying the first hours with her new baby. But the next day, a doctor arrived with troubling news. Jamie had failed her drug test. She told WROC:

“A doctor came into my room, that was the first time a doctor had come to my room and said, ‘Just so you know, you failed your drug test, is there anything you took?'”

The mom remembered eating the poppy seed bread and told the doctor about it, but he appeared to believe it was a myth that poppy seeds could cause a false positive on a drug test.

“[I told the doctor] I did have a lemon poppy seed bread, just throwing that out there,” Jamie recalled. “And he laughed and said, ‘That’s from Seinfeld, that can’t be.’ And I said, ‘That’s where I heard it, that’s why I’m just bringing it up.'”

Though the doctor might have thought it was just a joke, there are multiple cases of poppy seeds causing positive drug tests. Just last year, a Maryland mother had her newborn taken away for several days after a poppy seed bagel caused her to test positive for opiates.

According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the organization that runs the anti-doping program from U.S. Olympians, traces of opium can remain on poppy seeds after harvesting and processing. About 90 percent of the opium is removed, but how much is left can depend greatly on the source of the seeds.

While there isn’t enough opium remaining to feel an effect, there can be enough to spark a positive test result, especially if the levels for the test are very low. Poppy seeds from pastries have resulted in positive tests for morphine and codeine up to 48 hours after consumption. The USADA recommends athletes avoid eating poppy seeds during competitions and for several days prior.

Though the hospital could have used Hunter’s negative drug test results as evidence of an error in Jamie’s test, they chose not to. Nor did they give Jamie a chance to prove it was a false positive. She told WROC:

“I didn’t know what to do. I had nowhere to turn. I didn’t know what questions to ask. I offered to retake the drug test, I asked if I could do another urine sample, a blood test, a hair sample and they said no.”

Instead, the hospital reported the mom to Child Protective Services (CPS). The agency launched an investigation of Jamie and her family. They conducted home visits and went to the school to talk to Jamie’s daughters.

Hoping to allay the concerns of the investigators, Jamie even paid for drug testing and counseling classes.

“Honest to God, it was like a nightmare, I didn’t know where it was going to end,” she told WROC. “It just turned my life upside down for eight weeks when I should have been enjoying the time with my rainbow baby and it’s not fair.”

Finally, after eight weeks, CPS concluded that the suspicions of Jamie’s drug use were unfounded.

Both the agency and Mercy Hospital declined to comment on Jamie’s case.

Though the drug test forms say that Jamie’s test was only for medical — not legal or employment — purposes, the hospital defended the decision to call CPS. In a statement, Mercy hospital pointed to policies and procedures that enable them to make a report to authorities, “where vulnerable patients may be at risk.”

Jamie understands CPS and the hospital were acting out of caution but wishes more people knew about the risk that comes with poppy seeds. She told WROC:

“I understand for protection of babies, you have to be careful and do these tests, but people need to be educated that this can happen and it can rock your world. I think I’m lucky that it was only eight weeks to be honest with you, but it was a long eight weeks.”

What do you think?

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  1. As a Medical Review Officer I review drugs tests and frequently have morphine positive results due to poppyseeds. The government/military/DOT even changed the levels they look for several years ago due to the poppy seed issue.

    I do get a lot of folks saying their marijuana positive result is from poppyseeds, that one does not fly.

  2. I’ve heard more bad than good about CPS as well. They allowed those children in Perris, CA to survive starvation and shackling but they incriminate a newborn’s mom for 8 weeks without any evidence but this? Wow, super scary.

  3. “Mercy hospital pointed to policies and procedures that enable them to make a report to authorities, “where vulnerable patients may be at risk.”” unless said “vulnerable patient” was born in NY. Then they dont give a c**p.

  4. One of my sisters works for a State Police Agency that investigates crimes against children and she told me CPS was a joke. These people ignore real abuse and try to steal babies from innocent mothers.
    I hope she sued the hospital as they are supposed to ignore the extremely low levels of opiates those poppy seeds had in them to prevent false positives. The fact that the hospital refused to allow another drug test is evidence enough that something fishy was going on.

  5. I use to work in a hospital clinical lab and we drug tested an employee 2 hrs after she consumed a lemon poppyseed muffin because I was interested in the findings. Indeed the urine sample she provided was positive for opiates.

  6. There’s more to this story than this article covers. Apparently, this is a common policy for any patient coming in for treatment across the nation. I do believe there’s a pre-checklist a pregnant woman goes through prior to the birth and this was probably listed. What I don’t understand is why she felt like snacking while in labor, no matter what she ate.

  7. I was playing tennis when I went into labor. We had walked to the tennis courts about 4-5 blocks away, and had to walk home. MariaRose, I had a sandwich on the way to the hospital because it had been a long time since lunch and I was hungry. Good thing that I did because I was in labor for 12 hours before the doctor decided to perform a cesarean section. I’ve heard that poppy seeds can cause a false positive on drug tests – hate that there isn’t a way to separate that positive from actual drug use.

  8. Sorry – but I would sue over that – if she stopped and purchased that slice of cake on her way there, it would have been easy enough for the cops to check out her story……to put her and her family through this for a “low dose” result is ridiculous……CPS is totally out of control with their constant accusations against families with no proof of any wrong doing……..

  9. I am a Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist. As the coordinator of a occupational health clinic I was curious if consuming poppy seed foods would result in a positive drug screen, so I tested myself after eating poppy seed muffins spaced an hour apart. The drug screen was positive for opiates.

  10. I am a lady in my 70s . I went to a teaching clinic for doctors . I was on pain pills and signed a contract . I was taking Imodium AD for diarrhea, also my z quill to sleep a@ night . The dr. had me do a urine test ,I tested for meth from both . Now I can’t go their anymore . It’s also on my record as a drug addict @that office . I called. both places they said no it would not do that . The dr. Checked and said no . I looked it up and it said it could test positive on drug tests.what does a person do ( not guilty) .

  11. In order to get a drug test in labor, you have to have an illicit drug history. Always more to the story that the victim or news leaves out. Anyways, poppy seeds can test positive on a drug test. This story is unfortunate. Now we will see every opiate addicted mom blaming her positive drug test on poppy seeds.

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