Addressing HS Risks at the Genetic Level, with Kai Li, BSc

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Data show significant maternal and fetal risks in cases when pregnant women are diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa. A researcher discusses opportunities to learn more.

A recently published study showed children born to mothers with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) were at a 31% increased risk of hospitalization for long-term conditions, as well as a more than doubled risk of neonatal death.1

The findings, presented by investigators from McGill University at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) 2024 Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA, this week, provided a look into a myriad of heightened risks children who are exposed to HS in utero may face, potential prompts for follow-up research to understand why those risks exist in the first place, and the means by which they can be better detected and treated.

In the second segment of an interview with HCPLive during AAD 2024,2 study author Kaiyang Li, BSc, a third-year medical student at McGill University, discussed how clinicians can adopt strategies that address perinatal and postnatal health risks related to maternal HS.

“I think one step would be to really establish the safety profile of these medications for women during pregnancy,” Li said, noting potential safety risks associated with currently available therapies for HS. “That's one important step that we can take and better guide our expectant mothers on this journey.”

What’s more, Li said, screening can be more greatly improved for mothers and their children alike based on these data.

“Now we know that they are more prone to a certain disorder, we can certainly start early screening,” she said. “And let's say if the child is showing signs and symptoms of a certain disorder, and now we know that there might be an association that could potentially point us to the right direction in making that diagnosis.”

Li also discussed how the findings may generate more interest in researching—and potentially treating—HS at the genetic level.

“Like I mentioned earlier how it was implicated in previous studies how they found these pro-inflammatory cytokines…were implicated in the pathway of pregnancy complications,” Li said. “And these cytokines also happen to be associated in the pathogenesis of HS. So, that gets us thinking the cytokines could be implicated in the biological pathways between HS, and all these adverse outcomes that we see in infants and children later down the road.”

It's pivotal to assess the potential mechanisms of all these observed links between poor maternal and fetal outcomes and HS prevalence, Li said; the end-result could be more informed and targeted therapy options and significantly better outcomes for mothers and their children.


  1. Li K, Wei SQ, Brousseau E, O’Brien E, et al.Effect of maternal hidradenitis suppurativa on offspring outcomes: A longitudinal cohort study. Poster presented at: American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) 2024 Annual Meeting. March 8 – 12, 2024. San Diego, CA.
  2. Kunzmann K. Maternal Hidradenitits Suppurativa Linked to Neonatal Mortality, Pediatric Hospitalization Risk. HCPLive. Published March 8, 2024.