Followers of the hit sitcom “Seinfeld” might recall the episode during which Elaine (performed by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) hilariously examined optimistic for opium after consuming a muffin containing poppy seeds — which acquired her kicked off a piece journey to Kenya.
However for 2 pregnant ladies in New Jersey, the real-life repercussions of consuming poppy seeds after which testing optimistic for medicine weren’t almost as humorous.
The ladies ate bagels with poppy seeds final yr earlier than heading to 2 separate hospitals to present beginning to their youngsters. Hospital workers administered drug assessments to each ladies — which got here again positive for opioids, as a press launch from the New Jersey ACLU indicated.
The hospitals reported the ladies to the New Jersey Division of Baby Safety and Permanency (DCPP) for attainable abuse and neglect.
Now, the ladies are suing the hospitals for discriminatory practices. The New Jersey ACLU’s press launch shared the filed complaints for every girl.
Optimistic drug assessments result in investigations, lawsuits
The ladies filed lawsuits in opposition to the 2 hospitals, Hackensack College Medical Heart in Hackensack and Virtua Voorhees Hospital in Voorhees Township, for giving them drug assessments with out their information or consent and “within the absence of medical necessity.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU) filed two complaints on March 8 to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights on behalf of the ladies.
The complaints cite a violation of New Jersey’s Legislation Towards Discrimination (LAD), which prohibits illegal employment discrimination primarily based on intercourse and being pregnant, in response to the identical press launch.
There’s additionally a federal Being pregnant Discrimination Act (PDA), which “prohibits discrimination primarily based upon being pregnant, childbirth or associated medical circumstances,” and “requires that women who are pregnant, or affected by associated circumstances, have to be handled in the identical method as different candidates or staff with comparable talents or limitations.”
“Nobody must be subjected to pointless and nonconsensual drug assessments,” mentioned ACLU-NJ workers lawyer Molly Linhorst in a press launch.
“Our purchasers are sending a transparent message to hospitals that these testing and reporting insurance policies are unacceptable.”
She additionally mentioned, “Discriminatory testing insurance policies like these upend what must be a time of pleasure for households, and so typically topic them to additional trauma and unwarranted investigation by the state.”
“Nobody must be subjected to pointless and nonconsensual drug assessments.”
One of many ladies, named within the grievance as Kaitlin Ok., mentioned in an announcement that she feels violated.
“This entire ordeal has been extraordinarily hectic and has turned our lives the wrong way up and now, due to what occurred, I dwell in worry of medical assessments and the way they may be used in opposition to me as a mom,” she mentioned, because the ACLU press launch famous.
“I discovered later that the lab used a testing threshold far, far decrease than what the federal authorities makes use of.”
Why do poppy seeds set off optimistic drug assessments?
Opiates could be detected in urine drug assessments for so long as two days after consuming meals containing poppy seeds, in response to Winchester Hospital in Masssachusetts.
“Poppy seeds may cause a urine drug check to display screen optimistic for opioids comparable to morphine, codeine and heroin,” mentioned Dr. Farah Khorassani, well being sciences affiliate scientific professor on the UCI College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences in Irvine, California, in an e-mail to Fox Information Digital.
As a result of poppy seeds come from the opium poppy plant, which can also be the supply of opioid medicine, the seeds are coated with hint quantities of the illicit substances.
“If somebody is consuming giant quantities of poppy seeds and has to get a urine drug display screen, they need to keep away from consuming the poppy seeds inside 48 hours of the drug display screen,” mentioned Dr. Khorassani.
“In any other case, most assays [laboratory tests] won’t detect the hint quantities of opioids from poppy seeds.”
Along with bagels and different pastries, some poppy-based teas may cause optimistic urine drug tests for opioids, the physician famous.
“Aside from that, hemp-containing meals might trigger urine drug screens optimistic for THC, as they’ve variable concentrations of cannabinoids,” she mentioned.
Outcomes depend upon drug check ‘cutoff’ pointers
Any given drug check’s consequence will depend upon the “cutoff focus,” Gary M. Reisfield, M.D., affiliate professor of the Division of Dependancy Drugs on the University of Florida, informed Fox Information Digital.
“For instance, in most office drug testing applications, the cutoff is 2,000 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter), which might display screen out most (however not all) outcomes as a result of poppy seeds,” he mentioned.
Poppy seeds come from the opium poppy plant, which can also be the supply of opioid medicine.
Nonetheless, in medical settings comparable to hospitals, the cutoff could also be as little as 300 ng/mL.
“At this decrease cutoff, it’s truly fairly simple to check optimistic for opiates,” mentioned Dr. Reisfield. “Rather a lot depends upon how a lot you eat and the opiate profile of the meals — which isn’t posted on the bundle.”
A few poppy seed bagels, a bigger poppy seed muffins or a bit of poppy seed Danish might yield a optimistic consequence, he mentioned.
Prior false positives from poppy seeds
Pregnant ladies in a number of different states have filed comparable fits difficult hospital drug assessments.
In January, a grievance was filed in opposition to Saint Alexius Hospital in Chicago after a pregnant girl was drug-tested with out consent, as detailed in a press launch from the Illinois ACLU. The lady had eaten cake containing poppy seeds earlier than coming to the hospital.
The check was optimistic for opioids, resulting in a three-month investigation by the Division of Kids and Household Providers (DCFS).
In 2021, two pregnant ladies had been drug-tested with out consent at Garnet Well being Medical Heart in Middletown, New York, in response to a press launch from The New York Civil Liberties Union and Being pregnant Justice, a New York-based nonprofit that goals to guard pregnant ladies’s rights.
Each ladies, who had additionally eaten meals with poppy seeds, examined optimistic.
The hospital reported them to the State Central Register of Baby Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR), which led to searches of their houses.
“It’s our customary strategy to not touch upon pending litigation,” Daniel Moise, a spokesperson for Virtua Vorhees, mentioned in an emailed response to a Fox Information Digital question.
“As a well being system devoted to offering secure, complete and equitable care to the neighborhood, we’re totally dedicated to reviewing this matter.”
“This entire ordeal has turned our lives the wrong way up.”
Fox Information Digital additionally reached out to Hackensack College Medical Heart however didn’t obtain a right away response.
Hackensack College Medical Heart’s web site states that the hospital helps The New Jersey Legislation Towards Discrimination.
Fox Information Digital additionally reached out to the New Jersey ACLU for remark.