Mother Eats Poppy Seed Seasoning – Has Newborn Taken

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

In Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, Eileen Ann Bower tested positive for opiates after giving birth to her  son. Based on the results of the routine blood test, performed by Jameson Hospital, the Lawrence County Children and Youth Services kidnapped seized the baby three days after its birth. Bower claims her last meal, before giving birth, was a pasta salad with Perfect Pinch Salad Supreme Seasoning, which contains poppy seeds (the fourth listed ingredient).

Bower regained custody of her child 75 days later. Bower is suing the Lawrence County Department of Children and Youth Services.

Bower’s attorney, Stanley T. Booker explained “There were only trace amounts of opiates — they couldn’t even put a range on the amount.”

In an almost identical episode, another couple, Elizabeth Mort and Alex Rodriguez, whose baby was taken after she ate a poppy-seed bagel  and subsequently failed a urine test, performed by Jameson Hospital, are also suing the Lawrence County Department of Children and Youth Services, as well as Jameson Health System. In the ACLU complaint, it is claimed that:

The cut-off concentration levels used by Jameson to determine whether an initial or confirmation prenatal drug test is positive for opiates and/or morphine are so low that they are likely to produce false positive results; in fact, Jameson’s cut-off levels are far lower than those set by the federal government for federal workplace drug-testing programs.

I fail to see the reason for such a low threshold. The hospital’s policy is to consider a level of 300 nanograms/mL or above a positive result. Federal workplace drug testing has a threshold of 2000 nanograms/mL or higher.

Maybe it’s time for the hospital to rethink, assuming they thought about it in the first place, their threshold.

H/T: Reason Hit & Run, ABC News.

33 thoughts on “Mother Eats Poppy Seed Seasoning – Has Newborn Taken”

  1. Too bad the hospital didn’t look for metabolites of opiates–the real confirmation of drug abuse instead of just the “opiates” themselves. A quick Google check noted an increase LOD/LOQ and the detection of metabolites for confirmation

  2. Gene,
    my son just returned from Afghanistan a few weeks ago and said that the poppy fields were still a problem but that the Marines had success changing the farmers over to wheat. I hope it works.

  3. I wonder how much money is wasted each year on the type of non-merit based blanket testing this case illustrates? If you’re concerned about the harmful uses of poppy derived opiates, you can either declare war on moms, bagels and muffins or do something more practical . . .

    Huge poppy seed cache confiscated in Afghanistan

  4. Horrible story and I agree with OS and AY that the hospital will be digging deep into its pockets on this one.


    The video in the linked story indicates that this isn’t the first time. Though the story is about Eileen Bower, the video features another woman who also tested positive after giving birth at Jameson. That time a poppy seed bagel was to blame.

    Here is a more complete story about Liz Mort. It also provides detail about the reason and authorization for the drug test.

  6. I’m sure the hospital’s in the middle, between the family’s attorney and their own, who’s told them that to avoid later legal involvement, they had to err on the side of the most caution, that being the lowest possible testable figure. In this case, nobody wins but the attorneys.

  7. Having extensive work experience in Child Welfare I am of mixed mind in cases like this. The children of drug addicted parents are certainly at risk, but it should only be decided on a case by case basis. Serious investigation must take place before removal and removals should only be done with a good deal of negative evidence. This particular case is the kind of travesty that exposes the deficits of law made due to public demand due to sensationalized cases. What always must be balanced in any removal is that few foster care systems represent better alternatives.

  8. anon nurse,

    Working against these abuses is vital to the future of our children.

  9. NY has seen changes in its laws, AY. Certain things are done as a matter of course, as you say… I’m not up to date regarding mandatory testing, etc. here…

    I cannot believe that someone didn’t explore this and listen to the mother. That she was without her baby for some 75 days is unconscionable. I’m thoroughly disgusted by this story.

  10. Gene H. and AN,

    It is my understanding that routine placenta is tested…The parents actually do not have a choice in some states…even the umbilical cord is saved and used for other things……

  11. Welcome to America — where pretty much anything goes. Many just don’t realize it, yet. Our thin veil of “laws” is, for some, just an illusion.

  12. Elaine M.,

    I have done a number of Neglect/Abuse..Child Protective Proceeding as well as Juveniles Proceedings….You saw it from the school end…and I saw some to the bitter end….One shot actually killed his father…for beating his mother near death….Can you imagine the real harm to this child….and in this case…The real harm to the children’s developmental skills… interactions….yadda….and then get a bad teacher..excuse there are no bad teachers….just some better than others….where they have no empathy for why this or that child acts the way that they act…they just know that this child is not in conformity with the class as the teacher envisions it….some cases are train wrecks waiting to happen….whether it be the families or the teachers….

  13. I’m curious as to why a “routine blood test” after giving birth would include a drug screen absent valid informed consent or some other compelling reason (like the mother to be came into the hospital high) that would merit getting Child Services (and a judge) involved.

  14. AY,

    “75 Days? You have to be kidding me….wow….the bonding that must have been missed…”

    You are so right. I can’t even begin to imagine how upset these parents are/must have been.



    “I fail to see the reason for such a low threshold. The hospital’s policy is to consider a level of 300 nanograms/mL or above a positive result. Federal workplace drug testing has a threshold of 2000 nanograms/mL or higher.”

    I wonder how many people in the general population would test positive for opiates according to Jameson Hospital standards.

  15. Those are the kinds of cases I love to get involved in. Not quite like dynamiting fish in a barrel, but close. I have an idea the child’s college education will be taken care of. Not to mention formula, orthodontics, first car, etc…

  16. 75 Days? You have to be kidding me….wow….the bonding that must have been missed…if I was the attorney for her..and/or the children all’s I would say would is: Cha——-Ching…..

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