Poppy seeds trigger child abuse case against WNY mom

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It had been a long 9 months for Jamie Silakowski.

Her pregnancy followed a miscarriage and complications fed into her worry.

But Hunter arrived on October 16 without a hitch.

The trouble arrived a day later.

“A doctor came into my room, that was the first time a doctor had come to my room and said, ‘Just so you know, you failed your drug test, is there anything you took?’” Silakowski recounted.
 
That’s when Silakowski, of Depew, remembered driving through Tim Horton’s before going to Mercy Hospital of Buffalo.

“(I told the doctor) I did have a lemon poppy seed bread, just throwing that out there. And he laughed and said, ‘That’s from Seinfeld, that can’t be,’ and I said, ‘That’s where I heard it, that’s why I’m just bringing it up,’” Silakowski said.

What happened next had no one laughing.

“I didn’t know what to do, I had nowhere to turn, I didn’t know what questions to ask,” Silakowski said. “I offered to retake the drug test, I asked if I could do another urine sample, a blood test, a hair sample and they said no.”
 
Mercy Hospital called Child Protective Services which launched a child abuse investigation.

“Honest to God, it was like a nightmare, I didn’t know where it was going to end,” Silakowski said.
 
CPS would make house visits, interview Silakowski’s two daughters and visit their school.
 
Silakowski also underwent drug counseling and testing, paying for it all herself.

“It just turned my life upside down for 8 weeks when I should have been enjoying the time with my baby and it’s not fair,” Silakowski said.

But Michael Peterson, manager of toxicology at ACM Medical Laboratory in Chili, says it’s not unheard of.

“From time to time a person who consumes a poppy seed product may end  up with a positive opioid test and a confirmed positive for morphine or morphine and codeine,” Peterson said. “I would expect that in most cases medical professionals should be aware of this.”

And then there’s this: at the bottom of Silakowski’s drug test there is a note that says the findings should only be used for medical treatment, not for legal or employment purposes.
 
Silakowski’s pediatrician told her Hunter’s test did not show anything.
 
In response to these questions, Mercy Hospital said privacy law prevents them from talking about a specific case.

Here’s their entire response:

HIPAA privacy laws prevent us from discussing specific patient cases, however, Mercy Hospital of Buffalo’s top priority is to protect the welfare and safety of all our patients. Without discriminatory judgment and applied uniformly, we have policies and procedures in place to report actual or suspected instances to appropriate authorities where vulnerable patients may be at risk. We have no involvement in determining if an investigation is warranted or the extent of the investigation.

The Erie County Health Department, which oversees the CPS crew on this case, declined to comment.
 
Silakowski reached out to us after CPS found the suspicions to be unfounded.

“I understand for protection of babies, you have to be careful and do these tests, but people need to be educated that this can happen and it can rock your world and I think I’m lucky that it was only 8 weeks to be honest with you, but it was a long 8 weeks,” Silakowski said.
 

Silakowski doesn’t know where she’ll go from here with all this, but she is certain of one thing, she’ll never eat a poppy seed again.

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