Pot while breast-feeding

I am a pot smoker and am going to have my first baby. I’ve been a good girl. I haven’t smoked while pregnant for fear of a piss test and having cops take my kid, but I do intend on breast-feeding. I need to know the truth about marijuana and breast milk. I hope this question doesn’t embarrass you.
I can’t find out any information I can trust. Could you point me in the right direction? If it will harm my child or his development then I will by all means abstain, but if it won’t then I will want to smoke. It’s been nine long months. Thank you for your time.

Natalie H,

THC and the other cannabinoids are transferred to the baby via breast milk. To my knowledge, there are no studies of babies whose mothers used marijuana while breast-feeding, but did not use during pregnancy.

Dr Peter Fried, a researcher at the University of Montreal, has followed the children of middle-class mothers who used only marijuana during pregnancy and a control group whose mothers used no substances.

For the first five years, Fried observed no differences. Then he started to notice, perhaps unconsciously prompted by the threat of a funding cut-off from the US government, that there were subtle differences in the groups of children. The children of the pot users had a slightly higher intelligence than the other group. Fried has attributed this to “the earth mother effect” ? marijuana-using mothers on average spent more time with their kids and read more to their kids.

However, he claims that kids born from the marijuana-using mothers have slight gaps in “executive functioning.” An example he gives of this type of function is the skill and speed at which a person can recite the alphabet backwards. Even so, he says that the cognitive differences are very slight and are not significant as compared with neurological damage to fetuses from cigarette smoking or consumption of alcohol.

There are several other studies of the effects of marijuana use on the fetus. None have shown any significant differences in functioning.

Another aspect of marijuana is its effect on appetite and feeding. In one study, Esther Fride of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem injected newborn mouse pups with a chemical that blocks the body’s receptor sites for its endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide. The pups had problems feeding. Some of the mice died and the survivors grew slower. Pups that were given the blocker and a supplemental dose of THC fed normally. This suggests that a baby fed by a lactating marijuana user might be more likely to have a healthy, well-regulated appetite.

Readers with grow questions (or answers) should send them to Ed at: Ask Ed, PMB 147, 530 Divisadero St., San Francisco, California 94117, USA. You can also email Ed at [email protected], and send queries via his websites at www.ask-ed.net. All featured questions will be rewarded with a copy of Ed’s new book, Best of Ask Ed: Your Marijuana Questions Answered. Sorry, Ed cannot send personal replies to your questions.




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  789. Anonymous on

    The reason there are very few studies on pot use durong pregnancy and breastfeeding is because pot is illegal and the govt has banned studies on marijuana. The govt can’t make money on pot so therefore it is illegal. I have been smoking for over 10 years. I have suffered with stomach problems and anxiety. It has helped me greatly. When I found out I was pregnant I quit smoking pot for a couple months. I ended having very bad morning sickness. I was vomitting a lot causing dehydration and I had severe stomach pain. As a result I stopped eating because I was so sick. I several medications for morning sickness but they helped very little, if at all. I started smoking again and it saved me. It gave me an appetite and helped relieve my stomach pain. If it weren’t for pot I wouldn’t have made it through the 3rd and 4th month. I did stop smoking after the morning sickess subsided. I didn’t want to chance having a drug test, failing and having my son taken away. About 3-4 weeks after birth I started smoking again. I don’t smokea large amount of pot, though I have in the past. My son is 9 weeks now and there is absolutely nothing wrong with him. If anything he’s a little more advanced than most his age. I do breastfeed. I wouldn’t want my son to have mansmade formula. Our bodies wouldn’t produce milk if our children weren’t meant to drink it. Mammals breastfeed and we are mammals. As for people who think that pot might be laced…drug dealers are not going to waste money and time lacing your pot. If it were laced I’m sure you’d know right away. I know people who smoked with one child and didn’t with another child and the child they smoked with is much more intelligent than the one they didn’t smoke with. I know a lot of people whio smoked and none whom had any problems. Also I had severe back labor for over 3 days before my son was born. I had an epidural. The epidural contained large amount of fentanyl. Fentanyl is stronger than morphine. How is that okay and pot isn’t?!? The govt wants you to believe it is bad. Think for yourself and make your own decisions. And please don’t judge people for their personal decisions. And lastly the people I know who smoked are wonderful mothers who spend more time with their children than most.

  790. Anonymous on

    The reason there are very few studies on pot use durong pregnancy and breastfeeding is because pot is illegal and the govt has banned studies on marijuana. The govt can’t make money on pot so therefore it is illegal. I have been smoking for over 10 years. I have suffered with stomach problems and anxiety. It has helped me greatly. When I found out I was pregnant I quit smoking pot for a couple months. I ended having very bad morning sickness. I was vomitting a lot causing dehydration and I had severe stomach pain. As a result I stopped eating because I was so sick. I several medications for morning sickness but they helped very little, if at all. I started smoking again and it saved me. It gave me an appetite and helped relieve my stomach pain. If it weren’t for pot I wouldn’t have made it through the 3rd and 4th month. I did stop smoking after the morning sickess subsided. I didn’t want to chance having a drug test, failing and having my son taken away. About 3-4 weeks after birth I started smoking again. I don’t smokea large amount of pot, though I have in the past. My son is 9 weeks now and there is absolutely nothing wrong with him. If anything he’s a little more advanced than most his age. I do breastfeed. I wouldn’t want my son to have mansmade formula. Our bodies wouldn’t produce milk if our children weren’t meant to drink it. Mammals breastfeed and we are mammals. As for people who think that pot might be laced…drug dealers are not going to waste money and time lacing your pot. If it were laced I’m sure you’d know right away. I know people who smoked with one child and didn’t with another child and the child they smoked with is much more intelligent than the one they didn’t smoke with. I know a lot of people whio smoked and none whom had any problems. Also I had severe back labor for over 3 days before my son was born. I had an epidural. The epidural contained large amount of fentanyl. Fentanyl is stronger than morphine. How is that okay and pot isn’t?!? The govt wants you to believe it is bad. Think for yourself and make your own decisions. And please don’t judge people for their personal decisions. And lastly the people I know who smoked are wonderful mothers who spend more time with their children than most.

  791. Anonymous on

    I am at a total loss
    I quit smoking pot when I found out that I was pregnant and have not smoked since my son was born – 8 months ago
    Recently I have had a relapse of Crohn’s Disease (the reason I had begun smoking weed about 11 years in the first place – THE best “drug” out of everything I was taking – including steroids, antibiotics and other harsh drugs)
    I am beginning to loose weight and starting to feel the pain of my illness slowly creep back. I KNOW that a tiny puff would do wonders for me – Allow me to eat, and be a strong mum to my boy – But everything I read, everyone I talk to even my naturopath (!) has strongly advised me to not smoke for the well being of my son – I would rather feel like shyte than hurt my baby, but I’m not sure I’m willing to go back on synthetic medications either
    PLEASE someone help me! I need to hear from actual doctors or such that having a tiny puff will not cause my baby harm – Is there not a reputable website? Something? Anyone’s help would be GREATLY appreciated – I’m running out of options and feel like I’m not as “there” for my little man
    Thanks a lot for your time!

  792. Anonymous on

    I need someone who is non-judgemental, open minded and knowledgable in marijuana effects on the body/milk.
    I am a marijuana advocate who has studied extensively the effects of marijuana in the users body. The information I have found on this topic has been very narrow minded and argumentative. I need an open minded and sincere person to understand my question. I do take into consideration that everyone is entitled to their opinions but I need not to be criticized.
    I take one to two hits every night before winding down to sleep. My daughter sleeps about 6 hours before her mid evening feeding. I dont smoke during the day while she is awake and I take a healthy dose of vitamins each morning. I find weed to be relaxing and helps me to unwind after running around being super woman in my house. She is developing above the normal range. She is a healthy very alert and active baby. I am not an abuser of weed. I use it at a relaxant.

    Am I really effecting my daughter by doing this?

  793. Anonymous on

    I have to agree with the other two posters, and call BS. The phrase “studies do exist…”, when coming from a voice of authority, would have been promptly followed by the phrase “such as the study conducted by…(fill in the blank)”…

    As a lactating (sexy, huh) mother of my very first, and most precious little girl, I have scoured the internet for credible information regarding this topic because I, like other moms, care. As with most other topics explored via web, one must gather broadly, look for consistency, and always question the source, even if that source is followed by the letters M and D. Sometimes, ESPECIALLY when that source is followed by M and D.

    Physicians are often pretty proud individuals and are used to having authority in many people’s lives. Most people take them seriously and regard their advice as verifiable fact, as you have so illustrated with your own comments. Therefore they aren’t prone to repeating jargon or rhetoric simply because they do not know any better. Most of them are aware that marijuana is most often an innocuous substance, and that any ill effects distributed to its users, even unwitting children or the unborn, are only recognizable to those who are attempting to make a point. I can’t say I’m angry at mother for her pot-smoking when I look at my own IQ scores, wishing they were those 10 pesky points higher. Of course, I don’t look at that kind of thing as important, and if you’re the kind of chap that does, then not smoking pot during your pregnancy, or while you’re breast-feeding is probably best, but certainly not because of the devastating effects of THC on your offspring. Physicians, when faced with a question such as “does THC hurt my unborn child” or “does living under power lines cause cancer” where the difference between yes and no is virtually indistinguishable will err on the side of caution. Malpractice insurance prices are at an all time high. That isn’t to say that most physicians believe that telling a patient that marijuana is harmless might come back to haunt them, it is to say that why take that risk, however minute, on your own practice, and thus your own bottom line? Of all of the pot that is smoked throughout the world, by pregnant or lactating women, the effects would be glaringly obvious if there were any. And the “earth mother” theory is in fact a great observation in my point. Many middle-class mothers who are into burning, are also into other aspects of modern counter-culture, and many are very compassionate and conscientious (perhaps why they seek the relief of marijuana in the first place) making it likely that there are undocumented and uncontrolled variables in these studies, such as a propensity for art, reading, and other intellectual pursuits.

    If THC did decrease the amount of breast milk produced (my only real concern in the way of childhood development) then I surmise that the child’s increased appetite, and the subsequent pressure placed on the mother to produce more milk to keep up would more than make up for any loss experienced.

    I would love to see the studies of which you speak that indicate the results of testing done on mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy but while breast-feeding. Please post those soon. Thank you.

  794. Anonymous on

    To begin, there is “research” that claims smoking bud makes you infertile. If it does than why do so many potheads have kids? I just gave birth to my son about a month ago and I only smoked during my first trimester becuase I couldn’t even keep water down with the “morning sickness” that I had all day. I decided to quit after that becuase the morning sickness went away. All the research that says you might have a premature baby or low birth weight is crap. I had to get induced and baby came out 8lbs 9oz. The drug that they used to induce me is called cytotec (which I refused to take but in the end had to becuase the initial drug didnt work) Do some research on the drug! It has a warning on the package that says it should not be given to pregnant women. There are lawsuits from women whose children came out braindead or worse-lost thier babies,not only that but their uterus reptured causing them not to ever be able to have kids. Pot has been around for years and there is no credible research that shows its bad for you and the baby. And you don’t have to be a potsmoker to be a bad parent. There are people that are bad parents without drugs. Doctor’s don’t tell you what they really know about the drugs they administer to patients thats why you research.

  795. Anonymous on

    For people who do not want to smoke well breast feeding then don’t, but for those who do then I have seen 1 study done by a Canadian doctor who studied many different groups of woman. The Jamaican woman who smoked more then many of the woman in the study had children who were more hands on and developed much quicker. These children were better with groups and had less problems in the start of school. In no way is this doctor saying that this is do to pot smoke but it is a very big coincidence that this is how the study showed things. The last thing I have to say about this is that through both of my wife’s pregnancy’s she has smoked and smoked during breast feeding and we have 2 very smart kids. My oldest has won the math award at his school for the last 3 years and has been skipped 1 full grade, my younger one has started school 1 year early and is very smart for her age. People reading this can take what they want form this and I am not saying go and smoke lots and lots well pregnant but I am saying that in this day and age we all take what others say so much and look at studies without know the back ground of the people in them ,there are always out side effects on others lives and people who need the money to let there kids and them studied are they really the cream of the crop(are the parents smart or are they swift like a dead turtle). PEOPLE JUST THINK ABOUT YOU , IF YOU ARE SMART AND SPEND TIME WITH YOUR KIDS AND READ TO THEM AND TEACH THEM THEN POT WON’T DO ANYTHING TO THEM. BUT IF YOU ARE A VIDEO GAME FREAK WHO PAYS NO ATTENTION TO THERE KIDS AND PUTS THEM IN STUDIES TO MAKE MONEY OFF THEM THEN YES THEY AND YOU ARE DUMB AND MAKE A LARGE GROUP OF US LOOK LIKE ASSHOLES!!!!Sorry this is just my 2 cents take it for what it is just my opinion and what I have seen in my kids.

  796. anon on

    I smoked throughout my whole pregnancy. I smoked because of the stress my babies dad had on me. We lived 3000 miles apart and being so young there was a lot of stress. Any mother can know what they say about stress during pregnancy. I would admit that I smoked atleast once a day. The research that I found about smoking during pregnancy was, like smoking while breastfeeding, would be “no proven facts” but possibly a low birth weight or early labor. In my case, I was three days over my date and gave birth to an 8lb 15oz beautiful baby girl. I have continued to smoke throughout brestfeeding and was really astound to read about the “earth mom” affects, reading to your baby, spending more time with them.. in my case that is defintely me. Everynight before we put her to sleep she is read to.

    I do have to say I do know of those pot smokers who are bums. So I can’t really say everyone is like me.

    When I really think about it. How could THC be any more harmful then the chemicals in todays food. The hormones that are injected into animals. The preservitaves. The insect sprays, todays air, I mean I could go on, but do I have to?

    I think that it is really a personal choice and like one of the post on here stated it is more of a hush hush. Not everyone will agree with it and do hold it as severe of a drug as “any other” as generations move forward it will all change. It always does.

  797. Anonymous on

    My son is now a whopping 17 lbs @ 16 weeks old :o)

  798. Anonymous on

    I smoked a little marijuana when I was about 7 months pregnant. I had problems keeping food down during my whole pregnancy and while the baby was thriving, I began force feeding myself so I figured marijuana would stimulate my appetite, and it did. I quit by 8 months and by the time I had him he was as healthy as could be. His weight was 9lbs 1oz and to this day he is in the 93% for weight and 81% for height. He’s 3 months old now and I do occasionally breastfeed while under the influence of marijuana and I’ve seen no difference in his development, eating habits, motor development etc. His pediatrician was blown away by how quickly he was developing his motor skills. He’s happy, healthy and vaccine free!!

  799. Anonymous on

    1. who care if “Ed Rosenthal” is a doctor or not?

    2. Your quick to judge aren’t you?
    If you took a little extra time to keep reading, you would have read from her question “If it will harm my child or his development then I will by all means abstain, but if it won’t then I will want to smoke.” Sounds like she wont smoke if its going to hurt her baby…… Call me crazy, but that’s what I got out of it.

    3. And have you ever read some of the Studies by qualified people who document the ill effects of smoking marijuana while breastfeeding? Did you get into the Oxycontin’s and become a genius? you have no better answers than Ed on the subject.

    I’m going to get high now…..

  800. Erika, PharmD on

    I am a pharmacist and the mother of a 2 month old baby boy. Prior to my pregnancy I was a recreational pot smoker for about 10 years, smoking between 0 to 4 times a week. I used mainly to ‘get high’ and ‘expand my mind’. My husband is a daily meditative smoker. During my pregnancy, I decided to abstain from marijuana, but did end up smoking about 4 times during a really bad phase of morning sickness so that I could eat. It worked really well for that. Now that I am breastfeeding, I am feeling the urge to smoke again, which led to my internet search on the topic. There is not a lot of substantial evidence out there on the topic, and I actually found this site the most helpful.
    THC is fat soluble, which means it can stay in your system for a long time, and apparently it can show up in a baby’s urine for 2 to 3 weeks, and that freaks me out.
    If I do smoke, it will likely be a one time thing followed by a few pump and dumps. All in all, it does not seem worth it to me.
    However, if a person has a medical reason to smoke where the potential benefits outweigh the risks, I would say that person should be smoking.

  801. Anonymous SF Bay Mama on

    I have been using marijuana for 12 years. It is prescribed for me to treat anorexia, depression, and anxiety. I have also been on EffexorXR 75mg for 2.5 years for Panic Disorder.

    I became pregnant in January 2009. Going off of Effexor was out of the question. I quit marijuana for 6 weeks before I began it again after being hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum, which is severe vomiting and nausea that does NOT let up and prevents the intake of food and liquid. I could not even suck on ice cubes without vomiting stomach acid.

    My doctors eventually had me on Zofran, Regelin and marijuana – and those only barely kept the sickness at bay. The pills kept the nausea down and the herb gave me an appetite. I smoked 3-4 times a day.

    I gave birth in October to a 6 lb 12 oz. girl who is totally healthy and gorgeous and who is completely on schedule for all milestones/developments (she is now a 17lb 6 month old). I still smoke once a day.

    I had to battle my own fears about marijuana usage and the possible complications indicated by the heavy Rx usage. Bottom line: neither I nor my vibrant little girl would be here without all the help from carefully selected “poisons”. Life is complicated and difficult and I have found that grand moral assumptions cannot adequately explain away all the infinite possibilities and variables that our complex human organisms experience and are capable of.

    Be discrete, careful, informed, and wise. Know your body, know your self.

  802. Anonymous on

    that doctor’s once said tobacco was good for you, and that smoking tobacco could improve your lungs, etc. But the fact is, since marijuana became well known in the U.S., it’s been completely taboo, and we’ve been told it makes you violent and all this nonsense like you become a pile of nothing, and other crap. But now it’s medical uses are being proven and doctors who once condemned it are recommending it for a range of medical uses based on scientific facts. This is not the fifties, and i think everyone, even the people who are against its use can’t argue with the fact that in moderation, it proves to be helpful medically. There’s even a study in the works showing that it stunts aggressive forms of breast cancer.

  803. Anonymous on

    yeah, we know how good doctors advice is, like when they were saying how tobaco was good for you… 😉

  804. Anonymous on

    No kidding. My first thought was “this guy’s not a doctor, he’s some guy on a pot web site”… These are the times when people will have selective hearing when they’re being told what will harm their child. If it’s something like smoking pot, they’ll search around until they find some boho on the internet who says “it’s ok, go ahead, there’s no conclusive evidence of long term effects” and completely ignore the millions of other people saying “Maybe not the best idea.” People will hear what they want to hear.
    I was a total pot-head until I got pregnant. I smoked several times a day for years. I’m breastfeeding now and I plan on waiting until I’m not breastfeeding anymore before I smoke again. It’s not that difficult. I love weed, and if I can give it up for a little while, anyone can. Jeez. Why take the chance. I mean seriously, if there is a chance it might have even a slight negative effect on your baby, why take that chance? What means more to you?
    And the “earth mother” argument is a gem – I know maybe one or two people who actually fit that category – the rest are just smoking pot and playing videogames in their sweatpants while their kid screams nearby. Smoking pot doesn’t automatically mean you’re this hands-on, back to nature eco-mama who spends loads of time nurturing and enriching your kid’s development. Quite often it’s drastically the opposite of that.

  805. Anonymous on

    Well I’d trust my physician’s opinion on whether I should smoke pot while breastfeeding my baby, over some guy on a weed web site. I mean, come on. I love pot but use your brain.

  806. Anonymous on

    And your physican knows everything right? Since he or she has been programmed to say what the government thinks is right..

  807. Anonymous on

    Oh and anonymous dec 28? For your heads up on that, physicians will actually tell you to smoke marijuana to help with vicious morning sickness, but to ofcourse use only a little since the fetus is growing rapidly, and to not tell anyone know they recommended it, since it is morally fabu in our society. I can count 4 people who have had their physician say that to them. I didn’t need to consult mine, and I was just recently pregnant to hear these stories. If you’ve ever been pregnant you know how it is to be searching about information, when your pregnant. So before you join the bandwagon, look more into what physicians say. Not necessarily whats written on paper, but what they are actually telling clients.

  808. Anonymous on

    I just want to say. I went to the “kellymoms.com” site someone suggested, and it is the worst stand up of information. It goes on to say that marijuana use by the lactating mother can disturb the metabolism of the DNA and the RNA. (*!?)
    You know what else does that? CANCER.
    Marijuana cannot cause cancer you damned idiots.

    And that’s all I wanted to say. My point can stop there, and you can ponder that. Plus if you have ever tried marijuana, you will completely understand the “earth effect”. It makes more since in the grand scheme of things than anything else. The point is, to quit creating fear where fear is not due.
    It’s an advancement of reality. I think.. that the ultimate since of reality is what brings you closer to admitting whats really happening. Clearing up a foggy perception. Obviously cannabic plants can not cause cancer. Yes, it makes since that the child would be more intelligent, due to the “earth agent” within the plant. It’s botany for crise sake. Science, not opinion. Solid theories, testable by Hypothesis. Don’t ruin that with creating side clouds.

    Your information there at fancymoms or whatever the hell, is dangerous and not as valuable even when citing!! At least this article lists the actual person, department and school on where to find them, if we needed to double check they’re quote or study.

    The other site doesn’t even do that!!

    I’m sorry, but I think I’ve backed my opinion, and showed your article (directed to the writers at ‘fancymoms’.com), that your article is farther from reality, and not creditable directly. Therefore since you show your information can not be pinpointed, I will assume it is opinionated. Therefore! not deserving my attention, when searching for answers of real doctoral value.

    Thank you. Have a good one.

  809. Anonymous on

    I have to second that… what studies? And what intelligent people? Also, I’ve been looking for about 2 hours at numerous resources, websites, forums and discussion groups, and from what I’ve seen, most of these sites, groups, ect. state that there’s no shown negative effect from occasional use of marijuana while pregnant and breastfeeding. The only negative fact I have found numerous times is the possibility of your milk production decreasing slightly.
    And here’s some of the websites I’ve been to, in case your interested. I’ll show my sources, why don’t you show yours?

  810. Anonymous on

    Ed does not know of any studies that exist of mothers using marijuana while breastfeeding, but who did not use while pregnant. Do you? It would probably be helpful it you cited which studies you are getting you information from so that the people on this discussion board can obtain all the information pertinent to their questions.

  811. Anonymous on

    Most people, and any physician, would completely disagree with the content of this post.

    Here’s a few points I thought would be helpful for readers.

    1. The responder, “Ed Rosenthal” is not a doctor.
    2. “I haven’t smoked while pregnant for fear of a piss test and having cops take my kid, but I do intend on breast-feeding” – This is sad to say the least. The person searching for information is concerned only for themselves and not the health of their child. Can anyone really take this seriously?
    3. “To my knowledge, there are no studies of babies whose mothers used marijuana while breast-feeding, but did not use during pregnancy.” – This means that Ed does not know of any studies, but this DOES NOT mean they do not exist. Studies do exist. Studies by qualified people who document the ill effects of smoking marijuana while breastfeeding.

    Questions regarding your child’s health should be directed towards a qualified person, such as your physician.

  812. ChicagoBudsmoker on

    I have been researching this same information and have found no credible information regarding long term effects. I have, however, read in numerous articles that during the first month the baby’s brain development may be significantly effected by the THC consumption via their mother’s breastmilk. Most of these studies, however, were conducted on mothers who were heavy smokers. That fact might encourage some to smoke occasionally, but THC is stored in a mother’s fat tissues and can be found in a baby’s urine for weeks. I am insulted as a budsmoker to see the claim that children exposed to marijuana during infancy are more intelligent in the long run. “The earth mother effect” is bullshit. Weed is weed and trying to say it’s good for you is why nobody takes potsmokers serious. Natalie H: I would advise you to at least wait a few months before smoking again just to be safe. Your baby deserves that much. I know I am.

  813. Anonymous on

    It is so refreshing to have someone answer this question honestly and unbiased. I am a mother of two, both of which i smoked cannabis occasionally while pregnant and, regularly while nursing. I have seen no adverse affects in either of my daughters, one is 2 and the other 3 months, in fact their doctor says they are above average and have no medical problems what so ever! It is very important to continue to show the rest of the world that cannabis is safe, I encourage all parents to be their on advocate on this important matter.

  814. Anonymous on

    I’ve been very concerned about this subject as a new mom and my smoking during breast feeding. This post was extremely assuring and I also found this article from the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs posted on kellymom.com


  815. Nikki on

    It is refreshing to read your answer to her question. I’ve had the same question, but have basically just kept my mouth shut and kept to myself. I wish I could be an open-advocate, and maybe one day I will be, but it is slow going, as I have learned not to trust opening up to people on this subject. I’d rather not deal with people and their instant judgments. Thank you for your information!