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Poppy seed salad dressing leads to lawsuit regarding child custody

When it comes to determining an issue like child custody, courts typically look at what is in the best interests of the child. This often involves looking at the history of the parents, whether there has been any reports of violence or abuse, and whether the parent can financially support a child. These are just a few of the factors taken into consideration.

So how did a brand-new mother lose custody of her infant son? Her frustrations involved the poppy seed dressing on a salad and a hospital's drug testing policy.

While she did regain custody of her son, her state's Department of Children and Youth Services kept her from him for more than three months. The DCYS was initially contacted after a routine blood test after the delivery showed that she tested positive for opiates. According to the hospital's policy, any positive result that shows the presence of drugs can result in a mother's loss of custody.

The new mother was horrified when her son was taken away from her. She claims that the positive test results were not because of drug use but because she had eaten a salad with poppy seed dressing prior to giving birth. Her child was taken from her even before a second test could be performed to confirm the findings of the first test.

While toxicologists note that ingesting poppy seeds does not typically explain the presence of opiates, this situation could raise concern for many mothers. One mother also endured the same ordeal after she tested positive for opiates. She had eaten a bagel earlier that day that had poppy seeds on it.

Both mothers have filed lawsuits against the hospital in hopes that this situation will not happen to other mothers. While they are not arguing that the policy is completely inappropriate, they do believe that a confirmation test would make more sense. Otherwise, mothers who lose custody of their children are separated during a vital time of development.

Source: ABC News online, "Woman Sues After Losing Custody of Infant," Kim Carollo, 19 July 2011

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