Why is our toddler behaving so badly? And where can I find ID bracelets for allergies?


Q. Can you advise a family tormented by a boy who is only 18 months old? Our son is the youngest of three children. He has two older sisters aged three and six. We had very few behaviour problems with our daughters, but we all find the 18-month-old very difficult. Could it be an unusually early case of "the terrible twos"?

A. Toddlers can be delightful, but they can also be difficult. You were fortunate in having two daughters who you found much easier. I have been reading a new book called You and Your Toddler (Karnac, £8.99)by a psychoanalyst who runs a parent-toddler group. It helps parents understand what it going on in their toddler's developing mind. There may be problems of jealousy, fear and sibling rivalry. By understanding how your toddler is feeling, you may find a better way of helping him become a happier member of the family.


Q. I have had two partners in the past month. One is an old friend, but the other was a one-night stand. I'm worried about sexually transmitted infection, but I don't want to go to my doctor, who I have known for years and who also knows my family. Is there any way of getting a test done without going to the surgery?

A. You have a couple of choices about where to get help, but you should not ignore your concerns. Somewhere in your locality there will be an NHS clinic for sexually transmitted diseases - an STI or STD clinic (sexually transmitted infections or diseases); a GUM or GU medicine clinic (genitor-urinary medicine); or a sexual health clinic. To find the nearest one to you, phone NHS Direct (0845 4647) or look at the Playing Safely website ( www.playingsafely.co.uk). If you enter your postcode, the website will give you directions to the nearest sexual health clinics. In London, Boots the high-street chemists offers free confidential chlamydia screening. You can pick up a leaflet in any London Boots pharmacy. You can also get free confidential advice from the Sexual Health Line on 0800 567 123. Chlamydia is becoming more common, and it can lead to fertility problems if it is not treated.


Q. One of our children has developed a severe nut allergy and he now has to carry around an adrenaline injection device in case he comes into contact with nuts. I would like him to wear a bracelet that carries information about his allergy and emergency contact details. I have seen people wearing these, but no one at our health centre seems to know where to get them.

A. These bracelets are made by a charity called the MedicAlert Foundation. MedicAlert produce bracelets and necklaces engraved with a personal ID number, the name of the medical condition, and an emergency telephone number which provides access to further medical information, such as a doctor's details, drug treatment, and contact details of the next of kin. MedicAlert was founded by the parents of a child who had a serious reaction to tetanus vaccination, but it is now used by people with many conditions. Some people wear an emblem to say that they wish to be organ donors, or to make it clear that they have a living will. Copies of living wills are kept on file by MedicAlert and can be faxed to doctors looking after people who may be unconscious or unable to express their wishes because of illness. The jewellery range starts at £20, while the designer collection includes a 9-carat gold bracelet that costs a whopping £249. MedicAlert also charges an annual subscription of £15, but this can be waived or reduced for people on limited incomes. You can contact the MedicAlert Foundation on 0800 581 420, or on the internet at www.medicalert.org.uk.

Have your say: Readers write

PR has managed to locate safflower oil for itchy scalps:

My local chemist finally managed to order safflower oil capsules for me under the Healthwise brand from Optima Health & Nutrition, Cardiff, CF10 1AD; 029-2038 8422. I haven't been taking them long enough yet to know whether they work or not.

Send your questions and suggestions to A Question of Health, 'The Independent' 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; fax 020-7005 2182; or e-mail health@independent.co.uk

Dr Kavalier regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions Dr. Fred Kavalier