When Rosamere Fernanda de Andrade first held her newborn baby she assumed there had been a mix-up.
Rosamere and ex-husband, Joao, are both African Brazilian – but their daughter, Ruth, had white skin, blonde hair and blue eyes.
But it was no mistake – Ruth, 14, suffers from a rare condition called albinism and has no skin pigment.
Since then Rosamere, 31, has had two more albino children as well as three who are black.
So stark is the difference between Rosamere and three of her children, she is often mistaken for their nanny!
Rosamere, from Recife, Brazil, says: ‘When I am with my children I get strange looks because we look so different. Once I was leaving a shopping centre with Ruth and Estefani and a security guard asked where their mother was.
‘It used to make me angry but I am learning people need educating about what albinism is.’
However, Rosamere’s biggest worry is how albinism will affect kids Ruth, 14, Estefani, 12, and Kauan, nine.
The condition is characterised by the absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes – which leaves sufferers exposed to a range of afflictions.
The youngsters are so sensitive to sunlight that they need factor 100 sun block every two hours – and are not allowed to play outside in the middle of the day.
Rosamere, also mum to Joao, 13, Rebeca, five and Maria, two, who are black, says: ‘Having children with this condition poses so many difficulties. I’m terrified they will develop skin cancer because they have no natural protection from the sun.
‘I need to monitor them constantly to make sure they aren’t burning and worry about what damage has already been done.’
Rosamere was shocked when she gave birth to first child, Ruth, aged 18, with her ex-husband.
‘I thought someone was playing a trick on me and had switched my baby with a white family’s,’ she says.
And after returning to their village in a poor part of Recife, Brazil, Rosamere struggled with the way friends and neighbours reacted to her baby.
‘The neighbours began making comments about Ruth, asking if she was diseased.
‘They even suggested Joao wasn’t the father and I had been with someone else. It made me angry.’
It wasn’t until Rosamere gave birth to her second child with albinism, Stefani, one year later that she could put her mind to rest.
‘The doctors explained that both Joao and I must carry a gene for albinism and so each time we had a child there was a one in four chance the child would have it,’ she says.
By the time Ruth was seven, Rosamere began to notice how the condition was beginning to affect her children.
‘I started noticing how red Ruth and Estefani became after being outside. Later they would cry because of the pain of being burnt.
‘I felt helpless because I didn’t know what to do.’
Worryingly, Rosamere recalls how on occasions the children’s skin would become so damaged by the sun it would bubble.
‘It can happen so quickly when the sun is fierce. Now I know not to let them into the sun after 10am.
‘If they have to leave the house I make sure they wear long sleeves, hats and plenty of sunscreen.’
Estefani says: ‘We are like prisoners, we have to stay inside all the time in the summer. We can’t play games like the others. We are like vampires.’
Rosamere, who lives with partner Robenilson, 37 – father to Maria – knows there’s a chance any of her children could have albino babies of their own.
But with the help of doctors, she now knows how to manage the condition and will be able to educate her own children in how to care for theirs.
‘I would feel like a normal grandmother and accept my grandchildren as I accepted my children.
‘The doctor explained everything to me. I will constantly apply sunscreen on their skin and I’ll also try to let them play mainly in the night.’