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National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Australia.
[ Issue #20, April 2015 ]

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Dear Members & Supporters,
This month in “The Loop”
Welcome to the April 2015 issue of The Loop, which also happens to be our 20th edition!
If you have recently visited our website,, you may have noticed short videos in the slideshow on the main page. These videos have been recorded by our very own National Educator, Adelle, following workshops and presentations she has facilitated. The clips are unscripted, the feedback and stories are real.

NOFASD Australia's ultimate goal is to share the human story behind FASD. To share the trials and tribulations of those with these conditions and those who support them, to hear it direct from those who live it each and every day. We can write as many words on a page as we like, but nothing is quite like hearing and seeing people talking about their stories directly.
If you want to share your story, please contact us here. You don't need to get in front of a camera, or even share your name (although we encourage it!). We want to hear from you.

In the last newsletter, the Poll Question for the month was "What, in your opinion, is the main reason women continue to drink in pregnancy?"
We received 28 responses - the majority, with 18 respondents, answered 'Education - they do not realise the harm it could cause'. Three respondents answered 'Stress - from varying factors such as domestic abuse, workplace, etc.', and seven answered 'Other', with responses such as:
- Mental health, addiction
- Societal infatuation with alcohol
- Do not believe the reports that it will cause harm
- Habit
This is important information for us at NOFASD Australia as it indicates to us where our focuses and priorities need to be, so thank you all for your feedback.

This month there is no poll question, but instead we ask you to complete the Annual Review survey - please find the link below under the 'Of Special Interest' section.

And as always, please share the NOFASD Community newsletter with your family and friends.

Until next time,
Social Media & Administration Officer

NOFASD Australia does not necessarily agree with the articles below. They are provided for interest purposes only.
Of Special Interest
Annual Review 2015 

NOFASD Australia has been working to prevent FASD in Australia since 1999.

In 2012, three-year funding from the Commonwealth government through the Health System Capacity Development Fund provided the opportunity to employ staff, build the organisation and services.

We would like to know how we are progressing and gather your thoughts for the future. This short survey will help and should only take a short time. Please click on the link to complete:

Thank you.

Vicki Russell
National & NZ News and Media
NAAPA 2015: Children and families
This address was given by Barbara Lucas at the NSW ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance (NAAPA) 2015 NSW Election Platform launch. Barbara is a Paediatric Research Fellow from the George Institute for Global Health and has been part of the large team working with Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley on the Lililwan Project. The Alliance launched their platform, ‘Not one more’, at Sydney’s Parliament House in November 2014, urging NSW MPs to take action on alcohol. Read more...

Don’t kid yourself, drinking while pregnant isn’t harmless warns Kerry Parnell
Drinking a lot while pregnant will affect your unborn child. That much is known. Don’t drink and you remove the risk. Simple. But there are two problems: 1) Medical experts can’t tell you what “a lot” actually is and 2) how many people, pregnant or not, would ever volunteer that they drink too much? Pregnancy and drinking is a contentious topic. If pregnant women do drink, they usually think no one has the right to tell them otherwise. Read more...

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and false confessions [NZ]
Teina Pora spent more than twenty years incarcerated for the rape and murder of Auckland woman, Susan Burdett. His confession to the crime was the central piece of evidence that convicted him. But the highest court in the Commonwealth, the UK’s Privy Council recently found that Pora’s confession was unreliable and that the case amounted to a miscarriage of justice. Key to that finding was evidence from specialists in Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Listen here...

Editorial: Pora’s ordeal shows review panel needed [NZ]
Teina Pora was already some years into his sentence for the 1992 rape and murder of Susan Burdett when DNA evidence in 1998 proved she had been raped by serial offender Malcolm Rewa at the time of her death. Yet rather than releasing Mr. Pora, the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial and, in 2000, a second jury found him guilty. The conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal later that year and he served another 13 years before his case was heard by the Privy Council. This week (5th March 2015), the Law Lords quashed his convictions and invited submissions on whether they should order yet another trial.

New Zealand’s Neglected Foetal Alcohol Problem [NZ]
The damage that some babies can suffer when pregnant mothers drink heavily has again been floated in to the public consciousness after the Privy Council accepted that the then convicted murderer Teina Pora suffered from Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Insight’s Philippa Tolley has been speaking to families coping with the disorder and Youth Court Judges about what needs to be done. Listen to the Radio NZ National Insight program airing at 8.15am on Sunday May 3rd. Read more...

Booze ban bid for Birthcare maternity hospital [NZ]
One of New Zealand’s biggest maternity hospitals is battling official attempts to ban it from serving wine to parents celebrating a baby’s birth. Birthcare Maternity Hospital offers a glass of wine or low-alcohol beer as part of its menu and in December applied to renew its liquor licence. Auckland’s medical officer of health unsuccessfully challenged the decision, first before the district licensing committee and then in an appeal to the New Zealand Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority. Read more...

Alcohol risks outlined to mums [NZ]
Drinking while pregnant isn’t worth the risk, says Healthwatch health promoter Christine Rogan. Experts in foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and the risks associated with consuming alcohol during pregnancy were the keynote speakers at the first inter-agency workshop of its kind in Nelson. The issue has been highlighted recently after it was reported that a pregnant woman in Auckland was declined a glass of wine by bar staff earlier this month. Read more...
‘Talking Point’ monthly seminar series is now available to view online in real time
‘Turning Point’ is a national treatment, research and education centre that provides leadership in the alcohol and drug, gambling and mental health sectors throughout Australia. ‘Talking Point’ is the monthly seminar series which has been hosted for several years by the Association of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies NT (AADANT). It is designed to provide access to a range of speakers who will present on alcohol and drug issues and related fields. In addition to attending the presentations in Fitzroy, AADANT will now be able to provide online access to view the presentations in real time.
Booking are essential. Please contact 8413 8413 or email the information group at [email protected] and clearly specify if you wish to attend in Fitzroy or view online.

Moment to Moment: Teens Growing Up with FASDs
Moment to Moment: Teens Growing Up With FASDs explores the lives of four adolescents with FASDs and the effect that prenatal alcohol exposure has had and continues to have on their journeys to finding independence, fulfillment, and understanding the world around them. The film takes an intimate and eye-opening journey into the lives of those affected by FASDs, their families and friends, and captures the challenges that families must overcome as children with FASDs reach maturity and attempt to strike out on their own as young adults. Read more...

International News and Media

'Getting drunk won't harm my baby', say 10% of pregnant women: Shocking poll reveals how many mothers-to-be smoke, drink too much caffeine and eat 'forbidden' foods [UK]
One in ten pregnant women do not believe getting drunk will do any harm to their unborn baby. A poll found one in five women drink alcohol while expecting, with almost half of these mothers saying they didn't think becoming intoxicated would do any damage. Read more...

Global Strategy to Reduce Harmful Use of Alcohol [USA]
The harmful use of alcohol is a serious health burden, and it affects virtually all individuals on an international scale. Health problems from dangerous alcohol use arise in the form of acute and chronic conditions, and adverse social consequences are common when they are associated with alcohol consumption. Read more...

Against the Odds, A Southern Valley Senior's Bright Future Thanks to Adoption [USA]
From being told she didn't have much of a future to now making the honor roll with distinction. A Southern Valley Senior is getting ready for that next chapter in life, she says, thanks to being adopted. Brooklyn Becker as an infant was diagnosed with failure to thrive meaning she wouldn't bond or eat and suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, but the outlook changed when she came home with Joanna [Chesterman]. Read more...

New research may lead to better outcomes for children born with fetal alcohol syndrome [USA]
According to a recent study, about half of the 6.6 million pregnancies in the United States each year are unplanned. As a result, many women may not know they are pregnant in time to change behaviors that might be detrimental to unborn children, such as drinking alcohol. Rajesh Miranda, Ph.D., a professor in the Texas A&M College of Medicine, has devoted his career to studying one of the consequences of this – fetal alcohol syndrome. Read more... 

Dr. John W. Olney: pioneering brain scientist [USA]
Dr. John W. Olney was a brain researcher at Washington University who tried to find a cure for multiple sclerosis. The disease struck his sister at 16. He worked in his laboratory for 50 years but never did find a cure. Instead, he became a pioneer and leading authority in discovering how brain cells die. ... He reported that as few as two cocktails consumed by a pregnant woman may be enough to kill some of the developing brain cells in a fetus. Dr. Olney died Tuesday 14th April 2015 at his home. He was 83. Read more... 

Foetal alcohol syndrome child refused Supreme Court compensation bid [UK]
A child born with foetal alcohol syndrome has been refused permission to take her case for criminal injuries compensation to the UK Supreme Court. The seven-year-old girl, whose mother drank excessively while pregnant, was born with severe brain damage. The Court of Appeal ruled in December that the girl, now in care, was not legally entitled to compensation. Permission to appeal was refused because an arguable point of law was not raised, the Supreme Court said. Read more...

NMSU Students Educate Public About Risks Of Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant [USA]
Students in a New Mexico University Public Health Sciences Class have launched a campaign to spread awareness about the risks that are involved with drinking alcohol while pregnant. It's called, "Sober Choices, Healthy Babies".  According to Ruben Marquez, an NMSU Senior studying Public Health Sciences, their goal is to spread awareness about the impact that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder can have and what people can do to prevent it. Read more...

Flavored alcohol may increase risk of binge drinking, related injuries [USA]
Super-sized flavoured alcoholic beverages can increase the risk of binge drinking and alcohol-related injuries for underage drinkers, researchers from John Hopkins University and Boston University found in a study, a Wednesday press release stated. The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health on Feb. 25, found that underage drinkers who reported consuming malts, premixed cocktails and alcopops drank more on average and were more likely to experience “episodic heavy drinking”, the report stated. Read more... 

Even one is one too many – Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder [Ireland]
With levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy suggesting Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is significantly underdiagnosed in Ireland, Dr Irwin Gill and Prof Farhana Sharif examine the diagnosis and management of the condition ahead of a national survey of paediatricians. Read more... (N.B. To read this article, click ‘Yes’ when asked if you are a medical professional; no other details are recorded)

$2.3M invested in mental health programs [Canada]
Funding for a $1-million harm reduction home, to provide permanent housing for as many as 15 addicts now homeless or in risk of being homeless, was one of six projects to help the mentally ill, for which funding was announced Friday. The North East Local Health Integration Network is investing almost $2.3 million in what it calls high-priority supports for people living with mental health and substance abuse challenges. Read more...

Empathy can be better than force, Twin Cities police trainers teach [USA]
More police officers are getting special training to approach mental health crises with calm, not force. It was a rather routine call to Eden Prairie police: a domestic dispute at a house with a mentally ill, intoxicated man. But the response by officers over the next half-hour was anything but routine. Instead of confronting the man, an officer who had just completed training on defusing tense encounters calmly asked him questions and listened to his concerns. It helped. The man cooperated, and no one was hurt. Read more...

9-Year-Old Mankato Boy Speaks on Dangers of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome [USA]
More than 5,000 babies are born each year in Minnesota with some level of alcohol exposure. But one Mankato third grader is hoping that his story of suffering from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can help prevent future mothers from drinking. To look at Peter Lorentz, you might just see another active 9-year-old... but what you can't see if that Peter was born with permanent brain damage caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Read more...

Boy's death exposes gaps in support for those with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder [Canada]
Despite concerns raised about support for those with FASD after the death of a young boy, a group that hoped to expand its services was stymied in its bid to get additional money from the provincial budget. "Everybody seems to be recognizing that this is a huge hole in our system. We’ve been trying to get it filled, and it just doesn’t seem to be a priority," Leslie Allen, executive director of the FASD Support Network of Saskatchewan, said in a recent interview.

FASSY launches first pregnancy test kit dispensers in northern Canada [Canada]
The Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society of Yukon (FASSY) is launching an innovative Fetal Alcohol Syndrome [sic] Disorder (FASD) prevention initiative which will place pregnancy test kit dispensers in two women’s washrooms in Whitehorse. Dawson City's Healthy Families Healthy Babies project sponsored by CPNP (Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program) will also be doing the same soon in Dawson. Read more...

More than 1% of Preschoolers Given Psychiatric Medication [USA]
A surprisingly large number of preschool age children on Medicaid – more than 1% - are taking a psychiatric medication, a worrying finding given the lack of clinical trials on the effectiveness and side effects of the drugs in children this young. ... nearly 1.2% of children received a prescription for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety, psychosis or bipolar medication... "It is possible that some of these children have brain injuries or insults, such as traumatic brain injuries, fetal alcohol syndrome or the like, for which treatment is being provided". Read more...
Latest Research
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Australia – the future is prevention
Elliott EJ., Public Health Research and Practice, 30 March 2015, doi: 10.17061/phrp2521516
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are increasingly recognised throughout Australia as important, but preventable, disorders that result in lifelong problems with health and learning, mental health, behaviour and substance misuse. A federal parliamentary inquiry into FASD (2011), development of an Australian Government ‘action plan’ to prevent FASD (2013) and the announcement in June 2014 of government funding to progress the plan and appoint a National FASD Technical Network have focused attention on the need for FASD prevention in Australia. Early recognition and support for individuals with FASD is crucial to prevent adverse secondary outcomes; however, primary prevention of alcohol use in pregnancy, and hence FASD, should be our future goal. The causal pathway to drinking in pregnancy is complex and requires a broad social ecological approach. Read more...

Verbal Learning and Memory Impairment in Children with Fetal
Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Lewis CE., Thomas KGF., Dodge NC., Molteno CD., Meintjes EM., Jacobson JL., and Jacobson SW., Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 1 April 2015, doi: 10.1111/acer.12671
Previous studies using the Californic Verbal Learning Test – Children’s Version (CVLT-C) to examine effects of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure on verbal learning and memory have reported impaired information acquisition (i.e. encoding), rather than retrieval, as the primary mechanism underlying learning and memory impairment. The CVLT-C was administered to 2 independent cohorts to determine whether (i) effects on encoding are also seen at moderate exposure levels; (ii) these deficits are specific or secondary to alcohol-related impairment in IQ; (iii) effects on retrieval can be detected over and above effects on initial encoding; and (iv) effects on learning are attributable to less efficient learning strategy use.

Maternal alcohol intake around the time of conception causes glucose intolerance and insulin insensitivity in rat offspring, which is exacerbated by a postnatal high-fat diet
Gårdebjer EM., Anderson ST., Pantaleon M., Wlodeck ME., and Moritz KM., The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 2 March 2015, doi: 10.1096/fj.14-268979
Alcohol consumption throughout pregnancy can cause metabolic dysregulation, including glucose intolerance in progeny. This study determined if periconceptional (PC) alcohol (2% v/v in a liquid diet) (PC:EtOH) consumed exclusively around conception results in similar outcomes in Sprague-Dawley rates. PC maternal alcohol intake (from 4 days before conception until day 4 of gestation) resulted in offspring with elevated fasting plasma glucose, impaired glucose intolerance, and decreased insulin sensitivity at 6 months of age. Given many women may drink alcohol while planning a pregnancy, it is crucial to increase public awareness regarding the effects of alcohol consumption around conception on offspring health. Read more...

Moderate Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Enhances CluN2B Containing NMDA Receptor Binding and Ifenprodil Sensitivity in Rate Agranular Insular Cortex
Bird CW., Candelaria-Cook FT., Magcalas CM., Davies S., Valenzuela CF., Savage DD., and Hamilton DA., PLoS ONE, 6 March 2015, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118721
Prenatal exposure to alcohol affects the expression and function of glutamatergic neurotransmitter receptors in diverse brain regions. The present study was undertaken to fill a current gap in knowledge regarding the regional specificity of ethanol-related alterations in glutamatergic receptors in the frontal cortex. The resulting data indicate that moderate prenatal alcohol exposure has a significant and lasting impact on GluN2B-containing receptors in AID, which could help to explain ethanol-related alterations in learning and behaviours that depend on this region. Read more...

Maternal L-glutamine supplementation prevents prenatal alcohol exposure-induced fetal growth restriction in an ovine model
Sawant OB., Wu G., and Washburn SE., Amino Acids, 5 March 2015, doi:10.1007/s00726-015-1945-x
Prenatal alcohol exposure is known to cause fetal growth restriction and disturbances in amino acid bioavailability. Alterations in these parameters can persist into adulthood and low birth weight can lead to altered fetal programming. Glutamine has been associated with the synthesis of other amino acids, an increase in protein synthesis and it is used clinically as a nutrient supplement for low birth weight infants. In this study, maternal glutamine supplementation successfully mitigated alcohol-induced fetal growth restriction and improved the bioavailability of glutamine and glutamine-related amino acids such as glycine, arginine, and asparagine in the fetal compartment. All together, these findings show that L-glutamine supplementation enhances amino acid availability in the fetus and prevents alcohol-induced fetal growth restriction. Read more...

Docosahexaenoic acid partially ameliorates deficits in social behavior and ultrasonic vocalizations caused by prenatal ethanol exposure
Wellann KA., George F., Brnouti F., and Mooney SM., Behavioral Brain Research, 5 March 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2015.02.048
Prenatal ethanol exposure disrupts social behaviour in humans and rodents. One system particularly important for social behaviour is the somatosensory system. Prenatal ethanol exposure alters the structure and function of this area. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, is necessary for normal brain development and brains from ethanol-exposed animals are DHA deficient. Animals exposed to ethanol prenatally vocalized less, play-fought less, and crossed a significantly shorter gap than control-treated animals. Administration of DHA ameliorated [improved] these ethanol-induced deficits such that the ethanol-exposed animals given DHA were no longer significantly different to control-treated animals. Read more...

The Impact of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure on Hippocampal-Dependent Outcome Measures is Influenced by Prenatal and Early-Life Rearing Conditions
Caldwell KK, Goggin SL, Labrecque MT and Allan AM, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 9 March 2015, doi: 10.1111/acer.12674
The clinical course of individuals exposed to alcohol in utero is influenced by multiple factors, including the social environments of the gravid female and offspring. This study focused on the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and the prenatal and early-life social environments on the hippocampal formation, as impaired development and functioning of this brain region have been implicated in several of the adverse cognitive outcomes associated with PAE. The study found that standard nest (SN) PAE offspring displayed impaired context discrimination and neurochemical changes in the hippocampal formation consistent with increased glucocorticoid receptor (GR) nuclear localization. These effects of PAE were, in general, ameliorated in mice reared in a communal nest (CN). The CN also altered neurochemical measures and improved learning/memory in SAC control animals.

The effect of prenatal alcohol co-exposure on neonatal abstinence syndrome in infants born to mothers in opioid maintenance treatment
Kreitinger C., Gutierrez H, Hamidovic A., Schmitt C., Sarangarm P., Rayburn WF, Leeman L., and Bakhireva LN., The Journal of Maternal—Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 23 March 2015, doi: 10.3109/14767058.2015.1018168
This study examined the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) on the incidence and severity of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). 70 pregnant women on opioid maintenance therapy (OMT) were recruited from a perinatal substance abuse clinic. Subjects were categorized into three study groups based on timing of alcohol use during pregnancy as assessed by repeated self-reported measures and a comprehensive panel of ethanol biomarkers. The study concluded that PAE was not associated with NAS severity; however, further examination in a larger study is needed. Read more... 

Dose effect of gestational ethanol exposure on placentation and fetal growth
Gundogan F., Gillian J., Qi W., Chen E., Naram R., and de la Monte SM., Placenta, 24 February 2015, doi:10.1016/j.placenta.2015.02.010
Prenatal ethanol exposure compromises fetal growth by impairing placentation. Pregnant Long Evans dams were fed with isocaloric liquid diets containing 0%, 8%, 18% or 37% ethanol from gestation day 6 to 18. Fetal development, placental morphology, density of invasive trophoblasts at the mesometrial triangle were evaluated. Severity of fetal growth impairment correlated with increasing doses of ethanol. Ethanol exposure produced dose-dependent alterations in branching morphogenesis at the labyrinthine zone, and inhibited physiological transformation of maternal arteries. Read more...

Medications used in the treatment of disruptive behavior in children with FASD – a guide
Ozsarfati J., and Koren G., Journal of Population Therapeutics and Clinical Pharmacology, 12 February 2015
The majority of children with FASD suffer from disruptive behaviors and most of them need medications to modify these behaviors. The objective of this review is to familiarize professionals caring for children with FASD with stimulants and other drugs for ADHD, and the second generation antipsychotic risperidone - for aggressive and defiant behaviors. Read more...

Visual search for feature conjunctions: an fMRI study comparing alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) to ADHD
O’Conaill CR, Malisza KL, Buss JL, Bolster RB., Clancy C., Dreessen de Gervai P., Chudley AE., and Longstaffe S., Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 4 March 2015, doi: 10.1186/s11689-015-9106-9
Alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) falls under the umbrella of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Diagnosis of ARND is difficult because individuals do not demonstrate the characteristic facial features associated with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). While attentional problems in ARND are similar to those found in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the underlying impairment in attention pathways may be different. In this study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was conducted with sixty-three children aged 10 to 14 years, diagnosed with ARND, ADHD, and typically developing (TD) controls performing a single-feature and a feature-conjunction visual search task. The limited activation patterns in ARND suggest problems in information processing along the ventral frontoparietal attention pathway. Poor integrity of the inferior longitudinal fasciculus, which connects the functional components of the ventral attention network, in ARND subjects may contribute to the attention deficits characteristic of the disorder. Read more...

Upcoming Events

Remember to visit our events page on our website for a full listing of upcoming events.

Fetal Alcohol spectrum disorder prevention in Aboriginal communities – Mt. Lawley, Western Australia
DATE: 12 June 2015
DETAILS: This free training is aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm in Aboriginal women of child bearing age, including pregnancy with a focus on Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder prevention. The target audience is any health, welfare or justice worker who works with Aboriginal women of child bearing age and their community (this training is not suitable for community members). For more information and registration, please click here.

Fetal Alcohol and Other Neurobehavioral Conditions – Portland, Oregon, USA
DATE: 9-11th July 2015
DETAILS: 9.00am – 4.00pm, at the Mark Spencer Hotel – 409 SW 11th Ave, Portland.
For professionals, parents and caregivers who live and/or work with children, adolescents, or adults with FASD or other neurobehavioral conditions.
$395 for parents/caregivers, $495 for professionals – includes lunches, coffee and tea, Diane Malbin’s book Trying Differently Rather Than Harder, and notebook of handout materials. Some partial scholarship and student rates are available. For more information and registration, please click here.

Australian Winter School Conference – Brisbane, Queensland
DATE: 22 – 24th July 2015
DETAILS: The theme of this year’s conference is Unleash Potential. The conference will provide an opportunity for delegates to examine and discuss treatment approaches, analyse and debate emerging trends and research and identify and examine ways to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the sector. For more information and registration, please click here.

National Acquired Brain Injury Conference – Melbourne, Victoria
DATE: 13-14 August 2015
DETAILS: Save the Date! Early Bird available until 18th June 2015.
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