Baby’s first steps will look a lot different for Colona twins Blaire and Noelle McDaniel. They were both born with club feet, a condition where one or both feet are twisted out of shape or position.

About one in 1,000 babies are born with this condition in the United States each year according to the international center for limb lengthening.

While the amount of babies born with club feet is rare, it is even more rare for twins to develop it.

“We ended up finding out we were having twins, we knew they were girls but nothing ever came up that they would have club feet,” says their mom, Jill McDaniel.

The twins’ orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jose Morcuende, has been treating club feet for years. Morcuende worked closely with a clubfoot treatment that was developed at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics by acclaimed orthopedic physician Ignacio Ponseti, MD. Morcuende explains that even after years of research doctors still do not know why club feet develop.  

“We do not know why this happens. It’s probably some genetic informality or something in development. The reason for it is the muscle and tendons make the feet turn in,” said Morcuende.

Noelle and Blaire spent a lot of time visiting the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital where they received a casting treatment. Casting moves the feet incrementally outward toward normal alignment, At first, Noelle and Blaire’s feet were a bit tricky to treat, and that delayed this procedure.

“We did two or three casts but the problem was they were a little bit chubby,” said Morcuende.

He recommended the twins take a break and return when they got a bit older. Noelle and Blaire did just that, and now the girls wear a special boot and bar for a few hours each today to keep their feet in place.

“They’ll be wearing them for a while, that’s for sure, but they’re used to them now. It’s a part of their routine,” said McDaniel.