Over the past ten years, the number of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, has risen 24 percent.

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That's according to a new study of children covered by the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Health Plan. Doctors here in New Jersey aren't surprised by the findings.

"In the past, the stigma for mental health services was so great that it prevented a lot people from getting diagnosed with certain disorders. As we as a culture has matured and that stigma has mitigated, more people are willing to avail themselves of the available diagnostic and treatment services," said Dr. Thomas Rugino, Neurodevelopmentalist and Senior Clinical Researcher at Children's Specialized Hospital. "Doctors also are much more in tune with the diagnosis and much more commonly aware of it. They're also more able to devote the time needed for a proper diagnosis than they have been in the past."

"We have better questionnaire forms, better guidelines and better diagnostic tools to use to help diagnose ADHD," said Rugino. "We as a culture are evolving. A disorder occurs whenever an expectation cannot be met. As we get more and more into an information-based society, there's more need for sustained attention to unchanging stimuli such as reading and listening to other people's high level discussions. As a result, the demand of our culture on our kids have changed and that has certainly promoted more of an awareness of ADHD."

According to the study, about 5 percent of nearly 843,000 kids ages 5 to 11 were diagnosed between 2001 and 2010 with the condition known for causing impulsive behavior and difficulty concentrating. During that time, rates of new ADHD jumped from 2.5 percent in 2001 to 3.1 percent in 2010. ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed childhood disorders. Experts estimate that 4 to 12 percent of school-age children are affected. Many suffer with the disorder through adulthood.

Listen to Kelly Waldron's report