Doctor: New mom fails drug test after eating poppy seed bread

Updated: Jan. 30, 2020 at 10:50 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A Huntsville mom and her doctor fear poppy seed bread may be the reason she no longer has custody of her 2-day-old baby boy. Rebecca Hernandez was given a drug test after her delivery at Crestwood Medical Center Tuesday. According to her doctor, the screening showed traces of opiates in her system.

“This is a nightmare for the whole family," said Hernandez. “Ya know, a newborn baby has to be close to mom. They have to be with the mom. That’s the most important time in their life to be close to the mom when they’re just born.”

Through the help of her doctor, Hernandez learned the poppy seed bread she had eaten the day before may have caused a false positive.

Dr. Yashica Robinson, Hernandez’s doctor, said same day drug screenings are a problem and wants hospitals to rely on laboratory confirmed tests.

Poppy seeds derive from the opium plant, but can eating them flip a drug test positive?

“Screening tests can have what we call false-positive results where other things can interfere," explained Robinson. "You can have a substance that a patient eats. Like in this case, poppy seeds can make them test positive for opioids.”

Hernandez and her doctor say they understand policy but want hospitals to wait for the confirmatory test before children are taken away.

“I understand everything is a process. I understand you have to follow rules," expressed Hernandez. "They should’ve done some more research before they decide to call DHR.”

According to Hernandez, the newborn baby boy and her 13-month-old child are with her Aunt and Uncle under a temporary custody order.

The newborn’s screening test results were negative for opiates, according to Robinson.

Hernandez and her doctor say their issue isn’t specific to Crestwood. They want policy changes at all hospitals.

Her aunt told WAFF 48 News she and her husband were interviewed by DHR officials, their home was inspected and both underwent a drug screening before being granted temporary custody.

Robinson stressed she is not asking hospitals to break the law, yet only send confirmed laboratory tests to DHR. She adds erroneous results harm patients.

WAFF 48 asked Crestwood officials what their policies are surrounding this matter and were given the following statement:

“Crestwood Medical Center is committed to following the law and regulatory requirements as well as ensuring the health and safety of our patients. Our hospital also incorporates patient care practices that are established by credentialed members of our medical staff so as to further insure safe and quality care for all of our patients.”

The lab test results take five to seven business days to complete, according to Robinson.

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