Poppy seed bread triggers positive drug test for Depew mother

Local News

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) It had been a long nine months for Jamie Silakowski. Her pregnancy followed a miscarriage and complications fed into her worry. But Hunter arrived on October 16 without a hitch.The trouble came a day later.

“After I had him, 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?”

That’s when the Depew mother remembered driving through Tim Horton’s before going to Mercy Hospital of Buffalo. “I did have a lemon poppy seed bread, just throwing that out there. 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. “

What happened next had no one laughing. “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.”

 Mercy Hospital called Child Protective Services which launched a child abuse investigation. CPS made house visits, interviewed her two daughters and visited their school. Jamie says she even had to undergo drug counseling and testing, paying for it all herself. “Honest to God, it was like a nightmare, I didn’t know where it was going to end. It just turned my life upside down for 8 weeks when I should have been enjoying the time with my rainbow baby and it’s not fair.”

Michael Peterson, manager of toxicology at ACM Medical Laboratory, says it’s not unheard of for this to happen. “From time to time a person who consumes a poppy seed product may end  up with a positive opioid test and a confirmed positive for morphine or morphine and codeine,” “I would expect that in most cases medical professionals should be aware of this.”

At the bottom of Silakowski’s drug test there is a note saying that the findings should only be used for medical treatment, not for legal or employment purposes. Also, we checked with another regional hospital which notes checkpoints along the way which could prevent a call to CPS, like looking at the baby’s drug test. In this case, Hunter’s urine test showed no traces of drugs.

 In response to these issues, Mercy Hospital told News 4, 
“HIPAA privacy laws prevent us from discussing specific patient cases, however, Mercy Hospital of Buffalo’s top priority is to protect the welfare and safety of all our patients. Without discriminatory judgment and applied uniformly, we have policies and procedures in place to report actual or suspected instances to appropriate authorities where vulnerable patients may be at risk. We have no involvement in determining if an investigation is warranted or the extent of the investigation.”

The Erie County Department of Social Services, which oversees the CPS crew on this case, declined to comment.  
Silakowski says she finally got a letter from Child Protective Services confirming their suspicions were unfounded. “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 and I think I’m lucky that it was only eight weeks to be honest with you, but it was a long eight weeks.

While poppy seeds don’t actually contain morphine, the seeds can come in contact with opium extract during harvesting, so the amount of morphine residue left on the seeds depends on how well the poppy seeds are cleaned and processed, and that varies depending on the country the seeds are from and when they were harvested.

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