Eating Poppy Seeds During Pregnancy

By Victoria Gregory
A poppy seed cake.
A poppy seed cake.

Poppy seeds come from the same poppy as opium, which is used to make codeine and morphine, both strong painkillers. They are popular on breaded items such as buns and bagels. But because the seeds come from opium poppies, there is some concern regarding opiate levels in poppy seeds and the effect of trace opiates during pregnancy.

Health Benefits

Poppy seeds are high in Omega-3
Poppy seeds are high in Omega-3

As poppy seeds are high in protein and rich in omega-3 fatty acids known as linoleic acid and oleic acid, they could provide health benefits during pregnancy. Omega-3 is essential for the brain development of the fetus.

Potential Risks

Opiates can be dangerous during pregnancy.
Opiates can be dangerous during pregnancy.

Although poppy seeds usually contain only trace amounts of opiates, even a small amount can cause a false-positive urine drug test for up to 48 hours following ingestion. Opiates such as codeine could potentially be dangerous during pregnancy and can affect the baby's breathing during the last trimester.

Expert Insight

Limit your poppy seed consumption during pregnancy.
Limit your poppy seed consumption during pregnancy.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Germany reports that although there should only be negligible opiates in poppy seeds, analyses revealed that morphine levels vary greatly. Contamination can occur during collection if the sap of the poppy contaminates the seeds. They advise against excessive consumption of large amounts of poppy seeds during pregnancy.

Considerations

A poppy seed bagel should be safe.
A poppy seed bagel should be safe.

While contaminated poppy seeds may be dangerous, most poppy seeds are unlikely to be contaminated. Limited consumption may be considered safe during pregnancy, such as on bagels, but it may be helpful to discuss with your doctor or another medical professional before consuming any poppy seeds while you are pregnant.