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Baby removed after bagel skews drug test

Published: Fri, October 29, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.

Staff report

new castle, pa.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday on behalf of a New Castle couple whose newborn daughter was seized by a county agency.

The civil-liberties organization announced the court action on its website.

The baby was seized after her birth in April by Lawrence County Children and Youth Services after Jameson Hospital reported the mother, Elizabeth Mort, tested positive for opiates, the organization said.

Mort’s drug test was positive because she had eaten a poppy-seed bagel before giving birth, the ACLU says.

The baby, named Isabella, was kept from Mort and her fianc , Alex Rodriguez, for five days, the ACLU said.

Its suit alleges Jameson uses a much lower threshhold for a positive drug screening than federal guidelines, leading to a higher rate of false positives.

The ACLU says Jameson has a policy of testing all maternity patients for drugs and requires its staff to notify children and youth services of positive results, neither of which is mandated by federal or state laws.

Mort and Rodriguez could not be reached. Mort gave a prepared statement that the ACLU has on its website.

“We decided to file a lawsuit so that Jameson Hospital and Lawrence County Children and Youth Services could not do this to another innocent family,” Mort said. “They need to research and ask questions before they jump to conclusions.”

Lisa Lombardo, Jameson’s director of public relations, said the hospital’s policy is to conduct screenings to provide care to newborns.

“If a positive screen is obtained, we do not take that as final,” she read from a prepared statement. “The sample is sent to a national lab for confirmatory testing.”

“Pennsylvania state law requires health-care providers involved in the delivery or care of an infant identified as affected by illegal substance abuse to immediately report it to the appropriate county agency,” she continued.

“Once the report is communicated, the hospital is not part of any further investigation or decision-making,” she said.

Childen and youth services director Jane Gajda was not available to comment Thursday.


1lee(544 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

There is something wrong here, I don't think that the poppy seeds will show up on the test, this story does not pass the BS test

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2ibsteve2u(8 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

It is easy to find evidence that false positives from poppy seeds are routine. Consider this UPMC article at


One high-profile demonstration of the validity of poppy seed drug test claims was conducted by the Discovery Channel television program called "Mythbusters." One participant ate a poppy seed cake and tested positive for opiates a ½-hour later. The other participant ate three poppy seed bagels and tested positive two hours later. Both parties continued to test positive for 16 hours.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) conducted a study that examined the results of 317,500 urine specimens that were tested for opiates and reviewed by three Medical Review Officer (MRO) groups, as well as 1.1 million specimens from five certified laboratories. The MRO’s reportedly reversed 87% of all the positive urinalysis test results due to false positives attributed to poppy seed ingestion, prescription medication, or other reasons.

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3clk1941(4 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Poppy seeds can indeed cause a false positive for opiates. Those who think it doesn't pass the BS test need to educate themselves before commenting.


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4clk1941(4 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

My question isn't why the test came back positive, my question is why was the test done at all? The police are not allowed to search you or your property without just cause or a warrant. Why then is the hospital allowed to invade your privacy without just cause? If there is no reason to suspect drug abuse then how are they allowed to "routinely" check people for drugs?

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5ibsteve2u(8 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

clk1941 emoted: "my question is why was the test done at all?"

The story says: "Lisa Lombardo, Jameson’s director of public relations, said the hospital’s policy is to conduct screenings to provide care to newborns."

Now usually that kind of arrogance - "it is policy" - is reserved for the use of for-profit entities (i.e., they think they can make money doing it, so they do it).

However as Jameson Health System is a non-profit, I can only guess...perhaps a big donor made his or her donation contingent upon drug screening of patients and/or newborns?

I've noted that our wealthy Republicans can often be like that; spewing "individual liberty" and vitriol against "intrusive government" right up until THEIR money is involved, at which point their demand for control and their intrusiveness into the privacy of others makes King George into an icon of democracy by comparison - particularly if somebody utters the word "drugs".

But again, I can only guess.

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6walter_sobchak(2055 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

When you check into a hospital, you receive and sign forms to allow the facility to treat you. To do this, they need some accurate information and they take routine blood tests. This allows them to properly treat the patient and the patient's child and helps protect the health care worker from STD's, AIDS, hepatitis, etc.

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7AKAFR1(322 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

And now the trial lawyers are allowed to come to the rescue and recover millions of dollars...

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8DOLE2(594 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

I lost my kids after I ate some cottage cheese....

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9southsidedave(5028 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Drug testing is sophisticated and advanced sufficiently to determine the difference between poppy seeds and opiates.

Why does the Vindicator publish such nonsense?

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