This condition is found in approximately one out of every 70,000 live births (about as rare as conjoined twins) and is usually fatal within a day or two of birth because of complications associated with abnormal kidney and bladder development and function. It results from a failure of normal vascular supply from the lower aorta in utero. Maternal diabetes is associated with caudal regression syndrome and sirenomelia, although this association is not generally accepted.
VACTERL-H is an expanded form of the VACTERL association that concludes that this diagnosis is a less severe form of sirenomelia. The disorder was formerly thought to be an extreme case of Caudal regression syndrome; however, it was reclassified to be considered a separate condition.
A four-hour operation to insert silicone bags between her legs to stretch the skin was successfully completed on February 8 2005. A successful operation to separate her legs to just above the knee took place May 31, 2005 in a "Solidarity Hospital" in the district of Surquillo in Lima. The procedure, however, was so intensive that she became traumatized to the degree of losing her ability to form proper speech patterns, leaving her nearly mute. As yet it is not known if this is a physiological or psychological condition. However, at Milagros's second birthday, her mother reported that she knew more than 50 words. A second operation to complete the separation up to the groin took place on September 7 2006. A few weeks later, she took her first steps.
Recently, her doctor Luis Rubio said he was pleased with the progress Milagros had made, but cautioned that she still needed 10 to 15 years of rehabilitation and more operations before she could lead a normal life. Particularly, she will require reconstructive surgery to rebuild her rudimentary anus, urethra and genitalia.
Milagros' parents are from a poor village in Peru's Andes Mountains; the Solidarity Hospital has given a job to her father Ricardo Cerrón so that the family can remain in Lima, while the City of Lima has pledged to pay for many of the operations.