Poppy seed bagel triggers false drug test

Posted by Kelsey Wheatcroft - email
PENNSYLVANIA (NBC) - A civil rights lawsuit was filed Thursday on behalf of a New Castle, Pennsylvania mother who had her baby taken away after a bagel with poppy seeds skewed the results of a drug test.

Elizabeth Mort said she tested positive for drugs after delivering her child because she ate a poppy seed bagel before giving birth.

Mort said Children and Youth Services came to her home three days after the child, Isabella, was born at Jameson Hospital to remove the baby from her home.

CYS officials said her hospital blood work showed that she was using opiates.

The baby was returned to her parents five days later after there was no evidence that Mort had used illegal drugs.

"When she was gone, our family was just at a loss of words," Mort said. "I couldn't stop crying.
Alex just didn't even know how to be himself. It felt like our heart was ripped in pieces. The most important person was missing, and we didn't know when we would see her again."

The American Civil Liberties Union is filing the suit on behalf of Mort and the baby's father, Alex Rodriguez.

They're suing both Jameson Hospital, where the drug test was administered, and CYS.

"No parent should have to go through what this couple did," said ACLU of Pennsylvania staff attorney Sara Rose, who is representing Mort and Rodriguez. "This case is a tragic illustration of the harm that can result when the government removes a child based only on the accusation of a third party and without any independent investigation."

According to the ACLU, the bagel's poppy seeds provided the false positive.

Jameson Hospital released a statement saying that they were only following the law.

A Pennsylvania House Bill 2760 that passed three years ago allows hospitals to test a mother's blood to protect newborns.

The ACLU said Jameson hospital went too far and failed to consider what Mort might have eaten.