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Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

Mother blames poppy seeds for loss of custody

In one memorable episode of the television show Seinfeld, Elaine is shocked to discover that a urine test taken in preparation for her upcoming trip to Kenya comes back positive for opium. Later in the episode, she is relieved to learn that her consumption of poppy seed muffins is responsible for the positive drug test result, and not actual drug use.

Several years later, that fictional episode became reality for one mother, with much more traumatic consequences. After giving birth to her son, officials from the county Department of Children and Youth Services took custody of the newborn, claiming that a routine blood test during childbirth had revealed the presence of opiates in the mother’s system. She denies the allegation, claiming that a salad dressing containing poppy seeds is responsible for the positive drug test.

Now, the mother has filed a lawsuit against the county for taking her son away despite the fact that there was only a trace amount of opiates in her system. She maintains that she was not using drugs, but that she ate a salad with dressing containing poppy seeds just before giving birth. She regained custody of her son 75 days later, but alleges that the time spent apart has contributed to her now 3-year-old child’s attachment issues.

Her attorney says that the hospital and the county should have conducted additional tests before removing the child. Experts consulted for a media report were seemingly split on whether trace amounts of opiates in the mother’s blood could have been poppy seeds or whether they were truly indicative of drug use.

Source: ABC News, “Woman Sues After Losing Custody of Infant,” Kim Carollo, 19 July 2011