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Updated Infant Feeding Advice and Guidelines for Allergy Prevention in Infants

Mar 14, 2016: 

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), the peak body for allergy and critical immunology in Australia, has updated the infant feeding advice and guidelines for allergy prevention in infants.

"Allergic disorders are often life long, and although treatable, there is currently no cure. It therefore makes sense to try to prevent allergic diseases in infants or children, if possible." said Professor Dianne Campbell, Chair of the ASCIA Paediatric Committee.

Allergic diseases have more than doubled in western countries over the last 25 years. The most common allergic conditions in children are food allergies, eczema, asthma and hay fever (allergic rhinitis).

"Up to 2 in 5 children in Australia and New Zealand are affected by allergic disorders some time during childhood, with 1 in 5 having current symptoms", says Prof Campbell.

The reason for the continued rise in allergic diseases in developed countries is complex and research in this area is ongoing. Although children with a family history of allergy are at higher risk of allergy, many children with no family history of allergy also develop allergy. Therefore, these guidelines are relevant for all families. Many previous allergy prevention strategies have been ineffective, including delayed introduction of allergenic foods.

Important issues addressed in the guidelines focus on maternal diet during pregnancy, breastfeeding and the introduction of complementary foods to infants.

Adrenaline autoinjector expiry dates should be checked on device

Mar 10, 2016

Following recent reports from some pharmacies in Victoria regarding a discrepancy between the expiry date on EpiPen® adrenaline autoinjector devices and the expiry date on the box (carton), the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued a notification on its website: www.tga.gov.au/alert/epipen-300-microgram-adrenaline-injection-syringe-auto-injectors

Alphapharm has also issued communications to national media (print, TV, radio), EpiClub members and all pharmacies.

The ASCIA webpage about adrenaline autoinjector expiry dates states: It is important that the expiry date on the adrenaline autoinjector device (e.g. EpiPen) is checked and noted, rather than the expiry date on the box. For further information visit: www.allergy.org.au/health-professionals/anaphylaxis-resources/adrenaline-autoinjector-storage-expiry-and-disposal 

Primary immunodeficiency (PID) e-training

Mar 9, 2016: 
New e-training course online now. 

ASCIA primary immunodeficiency (PID) e-training for health professionals is now available free of charge from the ASCIA website:

ASCIA primary immunodeficiency (PID) e-training for health professionals

The main objectives of this course are to:

  • Increase awareness of PID amongst general practitioners, paediatricians and general physicians.
  • Promote early recognition and referral to a clinical immunologist to improve management of patients with PID in Australia and New Zealand.

Information regarding the status of allergen shortages in Australia and New Zealand

Jan 12, 2016: 

Issues surrounding supply of allergen extracts are outside the control of ASCIA or individual medical practitioners.

Information provided at the time of writing this is subject to change, and is derived from the primary source of information, Stallergenes Australia.

pdfASCIA Information regarding the status of allergen shortages in Australia and New Zealand460.66 KB


Content created 12 January 2016


First National Allergy Strategy released

Aug 7, 2015: 

Australian children and adults with allergy are often being poorly managed, with resources being wasted and their health and wellbeing at risk - but the launch of the new National Allergy Strategy has solutions.

“More than 4 million Australians are currently affected by allergic diseases and that number is growing fast,” claims leading paediatric allergy specialist Clinical Associate Professor Richard Loh. ”It’s a serious public health issue which requires more than just lip service. We now need action by all levels of government and the community.” 

“We’re dealing with under diagnosis which leads to under treatment as well as incorrect or inappropriate treatment, both of which may harm consumers,” says Maria Said, the President of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, the leading consumer organisation in the field.

July 15, 2015 - Anaphylaxis now more prevalent in older children and adolescents

Rates of hospitalisation from anaphylaxis have increased by 50 per cent between 2005 and 2012, a study by Dr Raymond Mullins (John James Medical Centre, Canberra) and Prof Mimi Tang (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne) has found.

In the article published online today in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Mullins and colleagues examined hospital admission rates to Australian hospitals for treatment of severe life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in the 14 years between 1998 and 2012. The aim was to determine whether childhood food allergy and anaphylaxis has increased further since 2005.

Hospitalisation rates increased in all age groups, and the highest rates were still found in very young children aged less than 5 years. Food allergy was the main cause and the main reason for these higher rates.

April 30, 2015 - ASCIA and Choosing Wisely Australia

ASCIA Choose Wisely contribution

Choosing Wisely Australia® is a new, health profession led initiative facilitated by National Prescribing Service (PBS) that aims to stimulate informed conversations about healthcare services, with the ultimate goal to ensure delivery of high quality healthcare for Australians by reducing inappropriate care.

In a first for Australia, medical societies and colleges have united to take the lead on identifying tests, treatments and practices that are of proven low value, are still in the research phase or carry an unnecessary risk.

The Australasian Society and Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) is one of the first medical societies and colleges that released recommendations at the launch of Choosing Wisely Australia on 29 April 2015. 

The ASCIA list of 5 things that clinicians and consumers should question is available at www.choosingwisely.org.au/recommendations/ascia 

April 13, 2015 - Allergic to commitment

Australian experts say the nation has given allergies too low a priority, and as a result people are suffering and at risk.

World Allergy Week, 13-19 April 2015World Allergy Week, 13-19 April 2015

“The figures are of great concern,” says leading clinical immunology/allergy specialist Associate Professor Richard Loh, who chairs the National Allergy Strategy committee. “Allergic diseases are among our fastest growing chronic conditions. More than 4 million Australians have one or more allergic diseasesand this is increasing. Hospital admissions for anaphylaxis (severe life threatening allergic reactions) have quadrupled over the last 20 years, food anaphylaxis has doubled in the last 10 years and 10% of infants now have an immediate food allergy.”

“Even something that many people feel is trivial – allergic rhinitis (hay fever) - causes significant illness,” claims Maria Said, deputy Chair of the National Allergy Strategy committee and President of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia.  “An astounding 80% of people who have persistent asthma also have allergic rhinitis, which if treated helps their asthma. Many in the community, even some health professionals don’t appreciate that treating hay fever can actually prevent asthma developing if it’s done early enough. We also know that having asthma and severe food allergy increases the risk of fatal anaphylaxis. And most Australians face a wait of many months to see a specialist with expertise in allergy, if they can access care at all ”

“You might think my story is unusual, but it isn’t,” says Kate Neville, a 24 year old communications professional who suffers from chronic allergies. “My hay fever, when it's bad, is like walking around in a fog. You go from feeling totally fine and within a few minutes you're experiencing the day 2 symptoms of a cold. I also have potentially life threatening food allergies, which are the biggest grind on my social, emotional and financial wellbeing.”

“And it’s not as if we don’t have some of the answers, We know that early diagnosis, prevention and effective treatment of allergic diseases is vital to halting the rapid increase in allergic diseases in Australia” says Associate Professor Loh who is also immediate past President of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA). “Governments need to recognise allergic diseases as a significant chronic disease group in Australia. If this is acknowledged, then we can mobilise resources for prompt diagnosis, prevention, effective treatments and models of care that give people access to timely and affordable care. It’s about leadership and recognition.”

“The cost of allergies to the Australian economy is more than $7 billion per year, and significant cost savings could be made by Governments supporting the implementation of the first National Allergy Strategy for Australia” argues Maria Said.  “

“There's not even consistency when it comes to education or support,” says Kate. “There’s too much reliance on individual doctors or passionate parents. It’s well-meaning but not enough.”

ASCIA, as a member organisation of the World Allergy Organisation (WAO), is involved in the 4th annual World Allergy Week from 13 to 19 April 2015, with the theme of: Airway Allergies – The Human and Economic Burden.

pdfASCIA World Allergy Week, 13-19 April 2015 Release289.34 KB

Mar 9, 2015 - The First Pollen Allergy Map of Australia and Predicting Shellfish Allergy in Children

A new foundation, which is redressing underinvestment in allergy and immunology research in Australia and New Zealand has announced its first two grants. 

Until now there has not been any organisation to specifically fund research into allergy, immunodeficiencies and other immune diseases in Australia and New Zealand. Despite having world class researchers in these fields, funding is very limited. The Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia (AIFA), an initiative of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), is trying to fill this gap.

Dr Janet Davies"Allergic rhinitis (commonly known as hay fever) is one of the most common allergic conditions in Australia. It can make asthma worse and is generally under recognised and under treated," says award recipient Dr Janet Davies, Deputy Director of the Lung and Allergy Research Centre at The University of Queensland. "Pollens in the air are what trigger attacks of hay fever and, in many pollen allergic people, asthma. So being able to avoid pollen exposure is important. But while pollen forecasts are seemingly available on a number of websites, they're not based on real data and are inaccurate, in comparison to actual pollen counts produced by our team in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

"Using the grant from AIFA, the Australian Pollen Allergen Partnership (APAP) will work towards establishing the first national standardised pollen monitoring program, spanning all Australian state and territory capital cities and offer readily accessible and reliable local and current pollen count information to patients and doctors through its website. It will also provide patient education material and evidence-based guidelines on pollen allergen exposure risks in different locations.

"Reliable pollen measurements and short term forecasts of allergenic grass pollen counts will be sent to the public via websites, apps and media outlets," says Dr Davies. "We're already publishing pollen forecasts via melbournepollen.com.au and canberrapollen.com.au and an app for Melbourne has generated over 20,000 downloads since the spring of 2013. To do this well, we need a standardized national pollen monitoring network to accurately forecast exposure to grass pollens that cause allergies."

Dr Sandip KamathThe second AIFA grant is for predicting shellfish allergy in children who are already allergic to the house dust mite. This mite is the allergy culprit in most people with asthma in Australia. The Chief Investigator is Dr Sandip Kamath based at James Cook University in Townsville. 

"It might surprise you to know that there are similarities between the bits of the house dust mite that cause allergies and those in shellfish, which means that you can get what we call cross reactivity. This is when the immune system reacts to house dust mite and may rebel against shellfish as well. This can evolve into severe allergic reactions," explains Dr Kamath.

"I aim to develop a way of detecting this immunological cross-reactivity using antibodies called IgE with the hope that this may help to prevent accidental exposure and unexpected allergic reactions to seafood among house dust mite sensitised children and young people."

"One in four people are affected by allergy, immunodeficiencies and other immune diseases in Australia and New Zealand. We're delighted that the Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia (AIFA) has been able to support such important projects, with the potential to positively affect so many people," says Dr Raymond Mullins, Chair of the AIFA Board. "Research into allergy has been under-resourced in Australia and New Zealand and this is the beginning of us redressing the balance."

pdfAIFA Media Release 9 Mar 201581.64 KB 

Aug 11, 2014 - National Allergy Strategy for Australia decided at the world’s first Allergy Summit

Experts agree that allergies are major public health issue in Australia and national action is needed.

pdfNational Allergy Strategy for Australia decided 11 August 2014503.08 KB

The world's first Allergy Summit took place in Sydney on August 8th. There were 60 invited participants including consumers and a wide range of medical specialists and key organisations from across Australia. This Summit was convened in partnership by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology Allergy (ASCIA) and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA).

The scope of discussions included the impact of allergic diseases, their cost, the need for improved access to care, standards of care, education and training, research and policy, with a focus on possible solutions.

"The Allergy Summit was a great step forward, bringing together key representatives from a large number of backgrounds to work together to identify goals and strategies to address a major chronic disease affecting a large proportion of the Australian population." says Dr Melanie Wong, a leading specialist Allergy and Immunology physician and President-Elect of ASCIA.

"The Allergy Summit was the beginning of a new phase in the management of allergic diseases in Australia," said Dr Wong.

"The aim of the National Allergy Strategy will be to improve access to appropriate healthcare services and improve the quality of life of people with allergic diseases and those who care for them," says Associate Professor Richard Loh, President of ASCIA.

"We all agreed on the need for a National Allergy Strategy," says Maria Said, President of A&AA.

The National Allergy Strategy will be developed over the next six months and further funding will be sought to hold an implementation meeting in April 2015.

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