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Mother Tests Positive for Meth During Delivery Because Of Her Asthma

Maggie Downs, a writer from Palm Springs, CA, was in labor when a nurse spoke to her in the hospital bathroom and told her that she had tested positive for methamphetamine. Downs was suprised and joked, “Well, I’ve always been a positive person." Downs thought it must have been a mistake. Yet, the nurse asked her to urinate again in a drug-testing cup. She did so and it came back positive. As she was going through contractions, , she was told that she'd be unable to breastfeed her child. As her husband spoke with the hospital staff, insisting there had been a mistake, Downs wondered how such a thing could happen and recounted her diet during pregnancy.

She wrote, “No alcohol, no deli foods, nothing raw, undercooked or smoked. The bulk of my produce was organic, my drinking water purified through a reverse-osmosis system. I used clove oil on a persistent toothache instead of visiting the dentist, because I didn’t want any anesthetic to pass through my body and into the placenta. During all 42 weeks, the hardest drugs that entered my body were prenatal vitamins and puffs from my prescription asthma inhaler.” It was the inhaler that caused the issue. Downs and her husband looked up information that shows inhalers can contain traces of methamphetamine.

According to Labcorp, Methamphetamine is available in two forms: "d" and "l." The "d" form is a prescription stimulant and appetite suppressant. The "l" form is available over-the-counter as the active ingredient of the Vick's inhaler and is included in certain prescription medications. And illegal methamphetamine may contain a mixture, which could be the reason why a drug test proved positive for “methamphetamine.” Yet, the hospital still had to report the incident to Child Protective Services and a social worker warned Downs that they could come by her house and take away her baby.

Downs wrote, “The weeks that follow are dark. I don’t know if I would have experienced the same level of postpartum depression without failing those drug tests. But I do know most other mothers don’t spend their first few weeks with baby the way I do – the shades drawn, peeking out from behind the blinds, examining each car that drives past.” Eventually, the hospital was able to resolve the matter and she was able to keep her baby.

Photo: WBIR

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