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How a video game could help children with food allergies

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Elizabeth McQuaid, a psychologist at Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center, is overseeing the trial launch of a video game designed to help children with food allergies.

McQuaid teamed up with developer Virtually Better to test a web-based game for children 8-12. Researchers hope the software, which puts players in scenes intended to help them learn more about food allergies, symptoms and reaction management, will reduce the risk of allergic reactions.

During the trial, 32 children and their families will use the software three times a week for four weeks. Participants will then be questioned about their overall knowledge and confidence about food allergy management.

"Pediatric food allergy is a serious health issue that now affects approximately four to eight percent of children," McQuaid said. "Yet, very few resources for children exist to promote effective management strategies. Most resources targeting those with food allergies provide support through groups or via the web, and typically focus on parents, with few resources designed for affected children."