GHENT, WV (WVNS) — Scientific evidence has declared the consumption of alcohol while pregnant is linked to adverse health effects on the fetus, but did you know it is not technically illegal to drink in every state?

Fetal alcohol syndrome is categorized under the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) which is used to describe a range of defects that can occur to a fetus when a pregnant woman ingests alcohol. Deficiencies in growth, facial defects and impairment to the central nervous system are all potential consequences for children exposed to alcohol in the womb.

Organizations like the National Institute of Health strongly urge pregnant women not to drink any alcohol during any time of their pregnancy, but currently there are no federal laws that restrict pregnant women from consuming alcohol. Some states do have laws or regulations that place restrictions or impose penalties on the use of alcohol by pregnant women.

According to data collected by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, only 20 states have some laws restricting pregnant women from drinking. In Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, North Dakota, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin have legal provisions that may define alcohol use by a pregnant woman as a form of child abuse.

In these states, women who have used alcohol while pregnant may face legal charges of child abuse, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. The range of penalties, including fines and jail time, will vary from case to case and state to state.