Information updates

Updated ASCIA FAQ How to Introduce Solid Foods for Allergy Prevention

30 November 2020

In response to recent feedback and as part of our commitment to regularly review ASCIA online resources, updates have been made to the ASCIA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) How to Introduce Solid Foods for Allergy Prevention document. This is the third most popular resource on the ASCIA website, with up to 14,454 pageviews per month, so it important that this is kept updated.

The updates include expansion and slight rewording of the key points, highlighted below in green:

  • Start to introduce solid foods around six months of age (not before four months), and when your baby is ready. If possible, continue to breastfeed your baby while you are introducing solid foods.
  • When introducing solid foods to your baby, include common allergy causing foods by 12 months in an age appropriate form, such as well cooked egg and smooth peanut butter/paste. These foods include egg, peanut, cow’s milk (dairy), tree nuts (such as cashew or almond paste), soy, sesame, wheat, fish, and other seafood. Studies show that this may reduce the chance of developing food allergy in babies with severe eczema or egg allergy.
  • Only introduce one common allergy causing food at each meal, so that the problem food can be easily identified if there is an allergic reaction.
  • If your baby has an allergic reaction, stop giving that food and seek medical advice.
  • Unless your baby has an allergic reaction to the food, continue to give the food to your baby regularly (twice weekly), as part of a varied diet. Trying a food and then not giving it regularly may result in a food allergy developing.
  • Babies need to learn to eat a variety of solid foods, from each food group, to receive adequate amounts of important nutrients including fat, protein, vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron and zinc.
  • Learning to eat solid foods takes time and babies learn by watching their family eat, so giving your baby the same foods as the rest of the family will encourage them to eat many different foods.
  • Offer your baby foods that are the right texture for their stage of development. To prevent choking, use smooth nut spreads or nut flours – do not feed your baby whole nuts or nut pieces.

To ensure consistency, the wording in the updated key points listed above has also been updated in the ASCIA Guidelines for Infant Feeding and Allergy Prevention.

The following information (from ASCIA FAQ Allergy Prevention) has been added to ASCIA FAQ How to Introduce Solid Foods for Allergy Prevention document:

Solid foods should not be started before four months. Studies have shown that babies at high risk of having allergies who are exclusively breastfed for the first three to four months of life are less likely to develop food allergies and eczema during the first two years of life. There are also developmental reasons why solid foods should not be started before four months, as a baby’s digestive system and ability to chew and swallow are not yet fully developed or ready for solid foods.

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ASCIA COVID-19 update

9 November 2020

In Australia and New Zealand we are currently in the fortunate situation of having almost no community transmission of COVID-19, unlike most other countries. However, work continues on prevention and treatment of COVID-19, including the local production of a new vaccine which is in clinical trials. 

COVID-19 Clinical Evidence TaskForce Living Guidelines

The Australian government's National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence TaskForce Living Guidelines are available at https://covid19evidence.net.au/ and these are updated weekly with the latest research. As a result of these guidelines, ASCIA documents for health professionals about COVID-19 treatments have been “retired”. The ASCIA COVID-19 webpage www.allergy.org.au/patients/covid-19 still includes links to ASCIA information about COVID-19 for patients, consumers and carers. 

ASCIA Representation on RACP COVID-19 Expert Reference Group

ASCIA now has a representative (Dr Theresa Cole) on the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) COVID-19 Expert Reference Group (ERG), which did not previously include any ASCIA members. This ERG meets fortnightly on Tuesday via Zoom, provides expert advice to the RACP on COVID-19 policy, advocacy issues and organisational matters, and regularly reviews and provides feedback on Government COVID-19 resources.

The RACP has mentioned ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training in a letter they recently sent to the Hon Greg Hunt, Minster for Health regarding the planning for the distribution and roll out of COVID-19 vaccinations. The letter states All vaccine providers should also be trained in rapid emergency treatment of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)1. Reference 1: The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) provides anaphylaxis e-training.

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ASCIA Immunodeficiency Strategy for Australia and New Zealand

6 November 2020

It is a pleasure to announce that the ASCIA Immunodeficiency Strategy for Australia and New Zealand has now been completed and is available at www.nationalimmunodeficiencystrategy.org.au

Over the past two years ASCIA has worked in collaboration with patient organisations (AusPIPs Inc, HAE Australasia, IDFA, IDFNZ) and other stakeholders to develop the first Immunodeficiency Strategy at a national level for both Australia and New Zealand. The Mission of the Strategy is to improve the health and wellbeing of people living with primary immunodeficiencies (PIDs) and minimise the burden on individuals, carers, health services and the community.

The Strategy was completed in time for it to be lodged as an attachment to the ASCIA submission in response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into approval processes for new drugs and novel medical technologies in Australia. The ASCIA submission was lodged by the extended deadline of Tuesday 3 November 2020 and is available at www.allergy.org.au/ascia-reports#s1

The ASCIA Immunodeficiency Strategy content is not influenced by the support received via unrestricted educational grants from CSL Behring (2019 and 2020), and Grifols (2019), which enabled ASCIA to develop the Strategy document. 

ASCIA looks forward to working in collaboration with patient organisations, other stakeholders and governments to implement the ASCIA Immunodeficiency Strategy for Australia and New Zealand Strategy from 2021 onwards. It is ASCIA’s intention is to host an official launch and implementation meeting early next year (as a hybrid meeting), subject to further funding. A timeline and strategic action plan for implementation will depend on funding and agreement regarding priorities.

 

New TAPID SCID publication

30 October 2020

A new position paper, Diagnosis and management of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) in Australia and New Zealand, submitted on behalf of the ASCIA Transplantation and Primary Immunodeficiency (TAPID) group, has been published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health (JPCH). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpc.15158

This publication complements the ASCIA-TAPID SCID Consensus Guideline (2019) on the ASCIA website, which includes information from the published Position Paper and additional information about transplantation. www.allergy.org.au/hp/papers/ascia-guidelines-SCID-TAPID 

There are now three TAPID publications that are included in the updated ASCIA immunodeficiency reference list

Richards, S., Gennery, A.R., Davies, G., Wong, M., Shaw, P.J., Peake, J., Fraser,C., Gray, P., Brothers, S., Sinclair, J., Prestidge, T., Preece, K., Quinn, P., Ramachandran, S., Loh, R., McLean-Tooke, A., Mitchell, R., Cole, T., on behalf of ASCIA Transplantation and Primary Immunodeficiency (TAPID) group. (2020). Diagnosis and management of severe combined immunodeficiency in Australia and New ZealandJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 56, 1508–1513. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpc.15158

ASCIA-TAPID Consensus Guideline: Diagnosis, management and transplantation of severe combined   immunodeficiency in Australia and New Zealand. 2019. www.allergy.org.au/hp/papers/ascia-guidelines-SCID-TAPID  This Guideline includes information from the published Position Paper (see above) and additional information about transplantation.

Cole, T., McLean‐Tooke, A., Loh, R., Quinn, P., Peake, J., Sinclair, J., Gray, P., Wong, M., Smith, J., Davies, G., Gennery, A., Smart, J. (2018). ASCIA transplantation and primary immunodeficiency (TAPID) project. Internal Medicine Journal, 48, Issue S6. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/imj.48_14077

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International Mastocytosis Day

20 October 2020 

On International Mastocytosis and Mast Cell Diseases Awareness Day (20 October), landmarks and venues across Australia are lighting up to raise awareness of Mastocytosis and Mast Cell Diseases. For more Information go to https://mastocytosis.org.au/

A mastocytosis patient survey has been developed in collaboration with The Australasian Mastocytosis Society (TAMS), to be completed by Australians who are diagnosed with mastocytosis or mast cell activation syndrome. The aim is to collect demographic information and patients’ experiences living with these conditions.

The survey is estimated to take 30 minutes to complete and is open until 31 October 2020.

To complete the survey go to https://mastocytosis.org.au/tams-research-survey/  

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Important change to TGA Authorised Prescriber scheme

19 October 2020

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has streamlined the Authorised Prescriber application process to access allergens for skin prick and intradermal testing, by removing the requirement for Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) approval or specialist college endorsement. 

This change to the TGA Authorised Prescriber scheme will simplify access to skin testing reagents for ASCIA members, which was raised as one of ten main issues in the ASCIA Submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry on Allergies and Anaphylaxis. Access to skin testing reagents has been a major issue for ASCIA members since 2008, so this change is welcome news. 

The changes to the TGA Authorised Prescriber scheme (effective October 2020) will streamline the application process for medicines considered to have an established history of use in Australia.  The TGA list of ‘medicines’ with an established history of use includes:

  • Allergens for skin prick testing (SPT), including control solutions, for confirmation of suspected allergic reactions – TGA code AP3.
  • Allergens for intradermal testing (IDT), including control solutions, for confirmation of suspected allergic reactions – TGA code AP2.

The changes include removal of the requirement for HREC approval or specialist college endorsement to be submitted to the TGA in circumstances where a medical practitioner is applying to become an Authorised Prescriber of medicines with an established history of use, as specified in subregulation 12B(1B) of the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990

A printable (pdf) version of the list is on the TGA website list of medicines with an established history of use and is also available here  pdfTGA-list-of-medicines-with-an-established-history-of-use-2020-October112.58 KB

The application process has now been updated for use under the new arrangements when renewal applications are due. The updated application form is available on the TGA website www.tga.gov.au/form/authorised-prescribers#apf and is also available here docxTGA-authorised-prescriber-scheme-application-form-201008144.64 KB

The above information and a list of allergen suppliers, is on the ASCIA website www.allergy.org.au/members/ascia-member-access-to-spt-reagents

To view the ASCIA Submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry on Allergies and Anaphylaxis and the Inquiry Report recommendations go to www.allergy.org.au/ascia-reports#s1 or click on the pdfs below:

pdfASCIA Submission Parliamentary Inquiry 

pdfWalking the allergy tightrope 

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Welcome to the new ASCIA President

At the ASCIA Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 3 September 2020 we welcomed the new ASCIA President, Professor Michaela Lucas. Professor Lucas is a clinical immunology/allergy specialist and immunopathologist based in Perth, Western Australia, and Chair of the highly successful ASCIA Annual Conference held in September 2019 in Perth.

The ASCIA AGM Minutes are available on the ASCIA website www.allergy.org.au/members/ascia-agm and include the following information.

INCOMING ASCIA PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE - PROFESSOR MICHAELA LUCAS

I am honoured and proud to lead ASCIA for the next two years, from 2020 to 2022. Since 1990 ASCIA has grown into a world leading, innovative and active professional society with strong and progressive leadership. ASCIA is in a fortunate position today due to the leadership of Presidents who have served before me, the active participation of ASCIA members and the leadership, support and guidance from ASCIA staff. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has presented new challenges for everyone, including ASCIA. However, with such a strong foundation I am confident that ASCIA will continue to succeed and grow, despite current issues.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Brynn Wainstein for his excellent leadership as the ASCIA President over the past two years, from 2018 to 2020. As outlined in the President’s Report there have been significant submissions and projects completed over that time, and many difficult issues addressed since March 2020. Brynn’s leadership has been critical in these challenging times. Thank you to the departing ASCIA Council members for all their work over the past few years and welcome to new ASCIA Council members, who I look forward to working with. In September 2021 I look forward to seeing you at the 31st ASCIA Conference in Melbourne which is being organised by Dr Dean Tey and his committee. In the meantime I hope everyone stays safe and well.

Congratulations to Dr Theresa Cole who is now the ASCIA President Elect.

Welcome to the following new ASCIA Council members:

  • ASCIA Drug Allergy committee chair - Prof Connie Katelaris AM (previously Deputy Chair).
  • WA representative – A/Prof Kristina Rueter
  • QLD representative - Dr Alberto Pinzon
  • SA representative - Dr Jovanka King
  • Medical Associate representative - Dr Kathryn Heyworth

Thank you to the following departing ASCIA Council members for their contributions which we greatly appreciate:

  • QLD representative - Dr Susan Perel
  • SA representative - Dr Pravin Hissaria
  • WA representative - Dr Tracy Markus
  • Medical Associate representative - Dr Victoria Smith
  • Immediate ASCIA Past President - Dr William Smith

Further information

ASCIA Council 2020-2022 www.allergy.org.au/members/committees#counc

Past ASCIA Presidents www.allergy.org.au/members/ascia-past-presidents

ASCIA WA Immunology and Clinical Grand Rounds (CGR) meeting on Saturday 14 November 2020

12 October 2020

ASCIA members are invited to participate in the ASCIA WA Immunology and Clinical Grand Rounds (CGR) meeting on Saturday 14 November 2020, 08.30-16.00.  This event will be held at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research McCusker Auditorium, 6 Verdun Street, Nedlands WA. 

We expect this to be the first of many ASCIA hybrid events, with a mix of delegates who attend in person or by live video (Zoom).

The preliminary program includes a welcome by the new ASCIA President, Prof Michaela Lucas and morning sessions which will be similar to previous WA Immunology Days.

The afternoon sessions will be dedicated to Clinical Grand Rounds (CGR) case presentations by ASCIA Associate (Trainee) members, from WA (in person or by live video) and other regions by live video (Zoom). The CGR judging panel will include ASCIA members from different regions, chaired by Dr Tiffany Hughes, and prizes will be awarded after the meeting.

Prior registration for this event is essential and there is no fee for ASCIA members. 

Registration and CGR abstract submission forms are on the ASCIA website: www.allergy.org.au/conferences/immunopathology 

Completed forms need to the emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 30 October 2020.   

Trainees who complete the CGR abstract submission form do not need to complete a separate registration form.

Companies who wish to provide support for this meeting should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 26 October 2020.

We look forward to your participation in this event.

Dr Chris Bundell and A/Prof Kristina Rueter

Chairs, ASCIA WA Immunology and Clinical Grand Rounds (CGR) meeting

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