(NEW CASTLE, Pa.) -- Eileen Bower of Pennsylvania is suing the Lawrence County Department of Children and Youth Services for taking custody of her newborn son after she tested positive for opiates, a result -- her lawyer says -- of her eating poppy seeds.
Stanley T. Booker, Bower's attorney, told ABC News that Bower gave birth to her son on July 13, 2009. A routine blood test performed by Jameson Hospital uncovered the presence of opiates in her system.
"They contacted Lawrence County Children and Youth Services and got a court order to take custody of her child on July 15," Booker said. Bower regained custody of her child 75 days later.
But before giving birth, Bower ate a salad with dressing that contained poppy seeds, which Booker believes led to the positive test result.
"There were only trace amounts of opiates -- they couldn't even put a range on the amount," Booker explained.
After the initial blood test, the hospital sent the blood to an outside laboratory to confirm the result, which came back the same.
"But even before the confirmatory test results, they contacted CYS and there was an order to take custody," Booker said.
Neither Jameson Hospital nor the Department of Children and Youth Services returned phone calls from ABC News, but according to the American Civil Liberties Union's web site, the hospital's policy is to perform drug tests on all new mothers and submit positive results to the Department of Children and Youth Services.
Both Jameson Hospital and the county's child protection agency are involved in a nearly identical case involving another woman whose child was taken as a result of a positive drug test. Elizabeth Mort said she ate an everything bagel with poppy seeds on it shortly before she gave birth to her daughter. She filed her lawsuit last October.
Toxicologists said that if trace amounts of opiates were found in Bower's blood, they didn't necessarily come from poppy seeds.
"It depends on the nature of the hospital's test, but when it comes to poppy seeds, you would have to eat a lot more than salad dressing to get a positive presumptive test," said Chip Walls, director of the Forensic Toxicology Laboratory at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.
"A positive blood test is more than likely not from consuming poppy seeds, but it's not out of the question," said Bruce Goldberger, director of toxicology at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville.
Both experts emphasized that it didn't mean there was an illegal drug present, either.
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