Flying soon.. any issues I need to know about? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am taking a trip soon and am going to be flying across the country.  I am only 5 weeks pregnant right now, but this is my first and I feel so lost about most things pregnancy.  Is there anything I need to worry about ?  I am thinking I don't want to go through any xray machine but other that that...?  I usually have to take dramamine when I fly but am thinking I should probably avoid that, which will be interesting.. I get VERY motion sick, so hopefully I can handle flying without my dramamine!


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#2 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 11:34 AM
 
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I flew at about 20 weeks and both my MW and OB told me that the the full-body scanner is safe to go through while pregnant. Even so, I didn't feel comfortable with it and was going to opt out and get the pat-down instead. TSA ended up not asking me to go through anyway, so it didn't end up being an issue.

 

I also asked about Dramamine because I also frequently take it when I fly. And I was told that it would be okay to take if I felt like I needed to, especially because it would be a one-time thing. Not something I'd be taking regularly. Although, again, it turned out to be a non-issue for me because I didn't end up taking any. Pregnancy has had the weird effect of making me less prone to nausea than usual.

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#3 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am scared to take anything, not scared I guess, just kinda want to "tough it out" instead of putting anything in my body right now.  So I think I will try no dramamine and see how it goes.  I accidentally tookit twice a couple weeks ago before I knew I was pregnant (i had avoided everything else but forgot about dramamine) so I already feel a little bad about that and don't want to do anything else!


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#4 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 12:26 PM
 
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Just so you ladies know, it is up to TSA, not you whether to go through the scanner or not. It IS safe, as you get more radiation while in the air than if you'd gone through 10 scanners. The scanners don't actually produce XRays. They use electromagnetic fields, so it's much like standing next to a toaster oven or a lamp for a couple minutes. But pregnancy is not a reason you can opt out if it's security policy. I wouldn't worry about it. I flew cross country twice in my first trimester and have a healthy boy who benefitted from my being in a tropical paradise through a large portion of my pregnancy. Keep hydrated, move around up and down the aisle a couple times to keep blood in your legs flowing, and try ginger for the motion sickness.

 

Happy travels!

 

 

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I flew at about 20 weeks and both my MW and OB told me that the the full-body scanner is safe to go through while pregnant. Even so, I didn't feel comfortable with it and was going to opt out and get the pat-down instead. 


 


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#5 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 12:52 PM
 
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Just so you ladies know, it is up to TSA, not you whether to go through the scanner or not. It IS safe, as you get more radiation while in the air than if you'd gone through 10 scanners. The scanners don't actually produce XRays. They use electromagnetic fields, so it's much like standing next to a toaster oven or a lamp for a couple minutes. But pregnancy is not a reason you can opt out if it's security policy. I wouldn't worry about it. I flew cross country twice in my first trimester and have a healthy boy who benefitted from my being in a tropical paradise through a large portion of my pregnancy. Keep hydrated, move around up and down the aisle a couple times to keep blood in your legs flowing, and try ginger for the motion sickness.

 

Happy travels!

 

 


 


That's not quite correct. Anyone can opt out of the full body scanner and do the pat down instead (at least in the US). There are 2 types of scanners. One is supposedly safe and for one the safety is up for debate. I flew at least a dozen times last year and I chose to opt out because it is not worth the potential safety issue to me (especially while pregnant). Here is a link to a letter written by some UCSF professors on the potential safety issue: www.NPR.org/assets/news/2010/05/17/concern.PDF.
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#6 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 01:18 PM
 
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I don't know. I asked to not go through and was told I had to. shrug.gif I was definitely in the US. Maybe it depends on the color of the alert system. It was orange when I flew. But honestly, if I flew a dozen times while pregnant, I would be SIGNIFICANTLY more concerned about the ionizing radiation while in the air. That's ACTUAL radiation. I tried the link, but that article seems to have gone missing from their site. 

I am assuming you're talking about the "backscatter" machines they now use at some airports. Each scan emits less than 1/1,000 of the radiation given off in a standard chest X-ray, or the equivalent of two minutes of high-altitude flight. Like I said, I am MUCH more concerned about the in-flight radiation. 

 

 

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That's not quite correct. Anyone can opt out of the full body scanner and do the pat down instead (at least in the US). There are 2 types of scanners. One is supposedly safe and for one the safety is up for debate. I flew at least a dozen times last year and I chose to opt out because it is not worth the potential safety issue to me (especially while pregnant). Here is a link to a letter written by some UCSF professors on the potential safety issue: www.NPR.org/assets/news/2010/05/17/concern.PDF.


 


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#7 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have never heard of in-flight radiation??  What is that from?


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#8 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 01:52 PM
 
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Oh no, sorry! Like you needed another thing to worry about. I didn't know about it either until after my pregnancy, but that's probably for the best, as I'm a worrier. It's from cosmic rays, which are stronger at higher altitudes. They have been implicated in problems with flight attendants' pregnancies and a high cancer rate in pilots. BUT, with that said, don't let this stop you from traveling while pregnant! Only very frequent exposure, or exposure during some weird storm would cause problems. Here is a good explanation:

 

http://www.epa.gov/radtown/cosmic.html

 

 

 

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I have never heard of in-flight radiation??  What is that from?



 


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#9 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Haha oh great!!  A lot of people who are pregnant fly, though right???  Gosh, being pregnant is hard!!


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#10 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 02:41 PM
 
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Yes. People fly all the time. Like I said, I flew cross-country, roundtrip during my second trimester. Apparently, equivalent to a chest x-ray. Yikes. At least that was in 2009, before all the backscatter scanners were put in everywhere. I only remember walking through the metal detectors. So at least I had THAT advantage. But yes, being pregnant and living in general just keeps getting harder......shy.gif
 

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Haha oh great!!  A lot of people who are pregnant fly, though right???  Gosh, being pregnant is hard!!



 


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#11 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 09:55 PM
 
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I'm actually flying almost across the country tomorrow. I plan on avoiding the backscatter X-ray and opting for a pat-down, but otherwise, I'm just staying hydrated and eating lots of protein per my midwife's recommendation. 


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#12 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 10:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My long flight is from Oregon to Atlanta, so it's a long trip (there will probably be a stop in the middle).  It is happening in October, so I will be around 12 weeks by then, I believe.  I take trips often, actually.  About once every month to 2 months for work.  I am wondering if I should cut back some while pregnant.  Hmmm..


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#13 of 30 Old 09-09-2011, 08:07 AM
 
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Now I'm a little freaked out about this in-flight radiation thing.  :|

 

We're flying from Atlanta to Hawaii in October.  The flight is 12 hours or something.  Should I be worried?


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#14 of 30 Old 09-09-2011, 08:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I just remembered I am flying in October AND December.. and possibly another time while pregnant!  AH!  How much is too much?


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#15 of 30 Old 09-09-2011, 09:13 AM
 
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I flew from Ohio to Hawaii and back. I don't know how much radiation I got, but being in Hawaii for my pregnancy was WELL WORTH IT. lol.

It's one of those things that I just choose not to think about. Women DO travel all the time while pregnant. Many airline companies put flight attendants on the ground while they are pregnant, but that's because they would be flying ALL THE TIME. I would say don't worry. Worry HAS to be worse for a pregnancy than in-flight radiation. If you want to be REALLY crazy about the whole thing, you can use this calculator to figure out how much radiation you would get: http://jag.cami.jccbi.gov/cariprofile.asp

Unless the plane hits a high altitude, I believe 35,000 or higher, it's really not TOO much radiation. The flights I have been on rarely cruised over 30,000.

 

Just found this quote, providing some numbers of normal background radiation versus in-flight:

 

The radiation exposures while flying are not considered high exposures. During your pregnancy you and your fetus will receive about 300 millirad of background radiation, which of course none of us can avoid. In a 10-hour flight you would receive less than 1 millirad. During solar flare periods the exposure may be increased. Some measurements have estimated exposures of 100 times the usual exposure while flying which would bring your exposure in the range of a low-level exposure from many diagnostic radiological procedures. Even this exposure would not increase your risk for birth defects or miscarriage, which is 3% for birth defects and 15% for miscarriage for all healthy women when they begin their pregnancy.

 

So, check for solar flares or storms, and you should be fine: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SWN/
 

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Now I'm a little freaked out about this in-flight radiation thing.  :|

 

We're flying from Atlanta to Hawaii in October.  The flight is 12 hours or something.  Should I be worried?



 


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On ability to opt out, I don't think you can opt out of a regular scanner, but you can the whole body scanners. I did a lot of research on it when I was flying so much (which was before I was pregnant), and I also talked to the TSA agents about it and I did opt out. The issue with the backscatter scanners is the way they direct the radiation into the skin, which is very different from the radiation you get from flying. Since the other link didn't work, try this one (it has a link to the letter): http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2010/11/5810/ucsf-scientists-speak-out-against-airport-full-body-scans.

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I just remembered I am flying in October AND December.. and possibly another time while pregnant!  AH!  How much is too much?



It depends on the distance and the altitude. I wouldn't fly cross country three times, but shorter flights should not add up to much.


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#18 of 30 Old 09-09-2011, 10:02 AM
 
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Yeah, I hadn't realized you meant backscatter scanners. In all my flying adventures, I was never asked to go through one. It's always just a regular one. Under what circumstances do they make you go through the backscatter? Are there gates where everyone walks through them, or are they part of the second stage of screening, where in the past you would have just gotten the pat-down?

 

 

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On ability to opt out, I don't think you can opt out of a regular scanner, but you can the whole body scanners. I did a lot of research on it when I was flying so much (which was before I was pregnant), and I also talked to the TSA agents about it and I did opt out. The issue with the backscatter scanners is the way they direct the radiation into the skin, which is very different from the radiation you get from flying. Since the other link didn't work, try this one (it has a link to the letter): http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2010/11/5810/ucsf-scientists-speak-out-against-airport-full-body-scans.



 


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#19 of 30 Old 09-09-2011, 03:46 PM
 
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I usually fly out of SFO in San Francisco, and they have a full-body scanner and a regular (metal detector, I think?) scanner at every security line. It's random which you'll get asked to go through. Once they seemed to consistently be sending every other person in line through the full-body scanner. But I'm sure TSA doesn't want it to be that predictable. Could just be at that particular agent's whim. shrug.gif

 

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Yeah, I hadn't realized you meant backscatter scanners. In all my flying adventures, I was never asked to go through one. It's always just a regular one. Under what circumstances do they make you go through the backscatter? Are there gates where everyone walks through them, or are they part of the second stage of screening, where in the past you would have just gotten the pat-down?

 



 

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OP, try not to worry!  Occasional flying is believed to be safe by doctors, organizations, midwives, etc... during pregnancy.  There are so many sources of toxicity and radiation that we all encounter in our daily lives.  It's reasonable to try to limit those exposures while pregnant and while not pregnant.  Once you start down that path though, everything can seem like a major threat... shampoo, lipstick, lotion, dishwasher detergent, car exhaust...  But, flying is not the greatest risk anyone encounters in their daily lives!    Remember the idea that you are more likely to die in a car crash than an airplane crash?  Same thing with risks of radiation and toxicity.  I'd worry more about not using bleach and eating organic veggies!

 

To answer your question about the backscatter v. regular metal detector, I flew cross country 3 weeks ago when I was 14 weeks pregnant.  My home airport does not have the backscatter scanners but the one I flew home from did.  I was standing there holding my 3 year olds hand and DH behind me in line.  Before I got to argue or complain, DD and I were waved through to the regular metal detector even though EVERYONE else was going through the backscatter scanner.  Just keep your cool and ask and I'm sure the TSA agent will be respectful and immediately agree.  

 

Have a good trip!


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#21 of 30 Old 09-09-2011, 04:17 PM
 
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Hmmm. I guess I look innocent, because I was never told to go through one before. I usually just walk through the regular metal detector and all is well with the world. I did get a pat-down once, but that was because my son was asleep in the Ergo and I didn't want to take him out. So good to know what to look for though!

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I usually fly out of SFO in San Francisco, and they have a full-body scanner and a regular (metal detector, I think?) scanner at every security line. It's random which you'll get asked to go through. Once they seemed to consistently be sending every other person in line through the full-body scanner. But I'm sure TSA doesn't want it to be that predictable. Could just be at that particular agent's whim. shrug.gif

 



 



 


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#22 of 30 Old 09-09-2011, 07:04 PM
 
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OP, I flew cross country twice when I was pregnant with my DD, and I've already done it 1x this pregnancy (and likely will have to again for a funeral in the near future)  and while the radiation exposure is discouraging, I don't think it really accomplishes anything to get really worried about it.  I've heard some people try to fly at night to limit exposure to the sun's radiation shrug.gif

 

However, if I were you, and travel for work was frequent, I would look into cutting back for other reasons.  You said you are newly pregnant...I HOPE you don't end up with bad nausea, but you might.  With my 1st pregnancy mine started around week 6...this time week 5.  I actually just flew cross country at 8.5 weeks and I felt SO sick the entire time.  The pilot barely ever took down the fasten seatbelt sign so they kept trying to make me sit down when I needed to use the bathroom to throw up greensad.gif not fun.  

 

With my last pregnancy, my flights were in my 2nd and 3rd trimesters, and I was less nauseaus but I was big enough that the seats were SO uncomfortable.  I also had to pee every 30 min which is not convenient.  (And one of my flights was 1 day after a newsworthy airplane scare so EVERYONE was on super-alert mode and the flight attendants were VERY pushy about making people sit down)

 

I can see how flying to a tropical destination might help it feel worthwhile, but if your trips are for business, I'm guessing that you will probably be less tired and much more comfortable with fewer trips!  Congratulations on your pregnancy.  


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#23 of 30 Old 09-09-2011, 07:32 PM
 
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The cosmic rays are the main problem so flying at night won't help. Because of the magnetic field the earth has, flying along the
equator is connected with less exposure to rays than flying over the magnetic poles where the radiation is stronger. A problem arises
through sun eruptions which can cause an extreme increase of rays.These events are very rare however. I think we have around one per
year. 
 

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 I've heard some people try to fly at night to limit exposure to the sun's radiation shrug.gif

 

 


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#24 of 30 Old 09-09-2011, 08:39 PM
 
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Compression socks totally prevented my feet from getting swollen!  Sooooo worth the $20 that I paid for them.  Really, swollen feet are the only complication that I've had with flying.  Good luck!


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#25 of 30 Old 09-12-2011, 10:09 AM
 
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If you have to take dramamine regularly to fly and your OB approves, I would def recommend taking it before flying.  I only get nauseaus when flying while pregnant and it is horrible..sometimes even with dramamine.  The time I didn't take it, I ended up throwing up on the flight, on the subway, and felt sick for a couple of hours after landing.  I truly am not trying to scare you though so if you are worried, you can always try without on the first flight..that should give you a sense of needing it or not on return.   Good luck!


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#26 of 30 Old 09-13-2011, 05:35 AM
 
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I flew twice while pregnant (two round trips), once in the 1st trimester and once in the 2nd. I got an aisle seat, while usually I get a window seat, so I could get up and walk around, and made sure to do so every couple of hours. I packed plenty of snacks, because I was hungry all the time. Other than that I just went with it. The worst part honestly was waiting in the long line for security in the 1st trimester, because I felt horrid, and eventually just sat down on the ground. After we got through security we flagged down one of those golf carts and got a ride to our gate. I did get directed to one of the full-body scanners at O'Hare -- I wasn't yet visibly pregnant, I don't know if they would have done so if I had been -- but I opted out and got a pat-down. I was SCARED of that pat-down because I had heard that they are getting really invasive, but that particular one was not.

 

I didn't stress too much about radiation, cosmic rays, etc. Women fly all the time and their babies aren't born with two heads. Both of the trips I took were once-in-a-lifetime kinds of things that I think were worth it.

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#27 of 30 Old 09-13-2011, 07:12 AM
 
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I'm 11 weeks pregnant and about to fly to Europe for 4 days, then back to the U.S.  I'm having a lot of nausea, so I'm planning to wear Sea Bands (acupressure bands...buy at any drugstore) and I went ahead and got a prescription for Zofran to take with me for on the plane.  It's used all the time for pregnant women and may be better for you than dramamine, but it's expensive!  This is my second pregnancy.  During my first, I flew at the end of my first trimester and I almost threw up during most of the second half of the flight, due to combo of pregnancy nausea + motion sickness, so for this long flight, I wanted to make sure I was prepared!  I may also buy some Preggie Pops to suck on, with the ginger to help a little too.  Smells really set me off as well, so I'm planning to have some scented lotion (citrus seems helpful) with me to smell when there's something stinky near.  Those are my tips.  Hope your flight goes okay and I wouldn't worry about the radiation for flying 3-5 times during the pregnancy!

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#28 of 30 Old 09-19-2011, 03:18 PM
 
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I have a problem during pregnancy where I feel like I am not getting enough air and I get dizzy and fall over... When the plane landed it all of a sudden got very hot and stuffy and I freaked out. The flight attendants brought me oxygen which was horribly stinky and gross and I started to retch. Yeah fun times. I was hoping they would just escort me off the plane into some fresh air.
My advice is to sit in the aisle near the front if you think this might be an issue for you.
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#29 of 30 Old 09-20-2011, 09:05 AM
 
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I did take dramamine for a boat trip when I was in the middle of the morning sickness. It is ok to take occasionally (though there was some special direction-- think it was just get regular not the non drowsy). I've learned that some women actually take it long term for morning sickness, so I think taking it once or twice is just fine. The nice side effect was that I didn't throw up ALL day, not just on the boat!

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#30 of 30 Old 09-22-2011, 10:46 AM
 
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Flew cross country yesterday- 6 hour flight, and I'm 14 weeks.  One other thing that stood out to me was the importance of having lots of snacks AND a variety of snacks.  I had lots of snacks, but mostly they were an assortment of carbs - it wasn't junkfood (fruit, dried fruit, homemade bread) but during the flight my body really wanted protein and I didn't have any- the best I could do was a pack of peanuts from the flight attendant.  


Mom to DD born March 2010, and someone new March 2012

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